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Before Continuing: Please Read the Terms and Conditions

In the documentary, Terms and Conditions, directed by Cullen Hoback, the films deals with two-controversies- the lack of Internet privacy and ‘free speech.’ The idea, that the government (as well as any one in the world) can track and intervene both your ‘online’ and ‘offline life,’ is extremely disturbing. Although I am familiar with the private policies of Face Book, Twitter, and Instagram, I never really understand how much of your online life and computer history is recorded. Moreover, it begs the question, "Does our personal content on the Internet really belong to us?” As well, “How do we claim ownership of our own activity from an omnipresent ‘Big Brother’ type?’

I could not help, but to see two sides of this argument. More specifically, the beginning animation within the film highlighted important attributes within the marketing and advertising industry. In the first few seconds of the film, the vivid image of the man receiving millions of pop-ads, related to his daily life, high lighted this ‘research tactic,’ which is utilized by many companies, in order to gain and maintain their ‘target customers’ As such, the term, ‘target’ supports the intrusiveness of the Internet, as well as these companies’ complete disregard for their potential customers’ privacy. In particular, having taken a consumer behavior course last summer, I recall my professor delving into this topic, by expressing her own experience with these particular forms of advertisements (e.g. looking at clothing on a particular website and then having them appear on every website, of which she had visited, until she decided to make her purchase from the original site). From this example, I think that many people can relate to this type of Internet experience. Moreover, this negative aspect of ‘advertising,’ as it relates to the lack of Internet privacy, promotes one of the disturbing factors of the Internet. However, it is also a useful tool for companies to understand their customer's behavioral patterns (i.e. understanding their dislikes and likes for their future purchases from that site). Thus, if and when used, social media can have positive and negative effects upon a consumer's privacy.

Moving on to the topic of ‘free speech,’ I found it interesting, that the film made no mention of the strict restrictions within countries, such as, China, where the Internet is on constant surveillance.In this world of hyper-awareness and Internet security, is the U.S. headed toward this same, intense direction? In addition, as we have been reading a lot of OP-ED articles in class, such as the xoJane website, I found that the movie made numerous connections between the blunt, controversial opinions within these articles to this required ‘policy’ of ‘online professionalism,’ and etiquette, which was insinuated within the film, as a solution to the ‘radical’ ideas, which may ensue from individuals using their different social media accounts. With the influx of ‘free speech’ and open forum websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, where the community is supposed to foster a safe and ‘open’ environment for differing opinions and conversations, users have become accustomed to sharing information ‘more openly and with more people,’ as Mark Zuckerberg suggests, ‘and that social norm has just evolved over time.’ As the movie makes completely clear, this subject of ‘privacy changes’ and ‘censorship’ will never disappear. There will always be users or ‘higher officials,’ who will question the validity and ‘political correctness’ of the social media users’ statements. Moreover, people need to possess a better understanding of the real concept and definition of social media, as well as how to use it. Thus, only the change in private policies, as well as people, who make the effort to make it “more user friendly,’ will be able to achieve this goal. Unless individuals find a medium, where they can stay truthful to their ‘public, social identities and opinions,’ without having to hide behind an ‘Anonymous’ identity, as the film suggests, there will continue to be further scrutiny of our Internet activity.

 

And who REALLY wants to deal with any of that?

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