Privacy crusaders are forever warning users of social media about the collection of their personal data. This data is worth literally billions of pounds.
Companies like Google and Facebook are all the evidence you need as to the vast amounts of money that changes hands by trading in other people's information. Some information is captured without the user knowing about it, through electronic tracking and third party applications sharing and pooling harvested data. Data is also collected by law enforcement and government agencies by monitoring social media and using data mining techniques. Data and information is also collected for third party use. When information is shared on social media, that information is no longer considered private, and is quite blatently sold to anyone willing to pay for it.
It is important to be aware of what you share, and also, to be aware of who you could potentially be sharing your information with. Teenagers especially, share a significant amount of information on the internet, because the technology has progressed faster than society and legislation can keep up. Teenagers are much more likely to share their personal information, such as email address' and phone numbers without being aware that the information they are posting can be accessed by third parties. This is not just a problem affecting teenagers, the same lack of understanding pervades all demographics. Most of the people who use social media or search engines, are giving away valuable, personal information which is collected and collated, and then sold on. The owner of this valuable information gets very little in return, other than more opportunities to continue sharing.
Where you are, what you are doing, what you are looking for, what and who you like or dislike is collected constantly, and the people that are collecting this information don't want you to stop sharing, they want you to share more, because selling your information is a very lucrative business.
Of course the search engines and social media sites don't run on fresh air. They require a constant income stream to continue operating, and your continued sharing of personal information funds their very existence.
Some social media users who have been criticized for inappropriate comments, have stated that they didn't realise that anyone outside their circle of friends could or would read their post; in fact, on some social media sites, unless a user selects higher than default privacy settings, their content is shared with a very wide audience.
Sharing has always been a big part of what the Internet is and how it functions. And with social networks gaining in popularity over the past several years, sharing is probably the one aspect we utilise the most on the world wide web. We share news, information, pictures and experiences, and by doing this we can build and maintain relationships. But this can also have adverse affects. You can share too much information. Your credit card number, your bank account number, even your mother's maiden name are obvious things that you shouldn't be sharing at all. How many other things do you share that could have potentially damaging effects if that same shared information fell into the wrong hands.
TL;DR - Conclusion.
Don’t post anything on the Internet that you don’t want everyone and possibly his dog to see. It sounds obvious, but so many people ignore this basic rule, it is a rule that should be taught in school alongside the three R's. It’s important to realise that even if you’ve created filters for your contacts or have your information restricted to only those who follow you or who you approve of, that you should still watch what you share. Apply this to your photos, location-specific posts and personal profile information. Be responsible about who you share with and what you share. Think of the Internet as a giant space where all sorts of people roam about. If this space was a real place that you were in, would you trust everyone with all your secrets, personal information, etc.? I'm guessing your answer is 'Probably not'.