“Privacy has Been Privatised”

In a world where our personal and private data is becoming more open and accessible, the monetisation of our digital footprint by some of the world’s biggest online companies has lead to a huge lack of privacy. However, is this the tradeoff for clarity online?

“Your online identity is the sum of your characteristics & interactions.” This is the definition given by ‘Internet Society.’ Who explain that the partial identity you portray is different for each website you interact with. These interactions are curated, building up your online identity.

Below I have explained my own experiences regarding multiple identities: [CLICK TO VIEW]

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Many, such as Christopher Poole do not see this as a problem, claiming that ‘individuals are multifaceted and identity is prismatic.’ Therefore, portraying yourself different, depending on where you are online is completely normal and acceptable.

However, there is a thin line between having a partial identity and fake persona, and it is often very easy for users to fall on the wrong side of this line. With 5 new Facebook profiles  being created every second it has become increasingly probable that we will come into direct contact with fake profiles online. This creates huge issues regarding the authenticity of our online experience.

wersm-facebook-messenger-monetisationIn addition, we are currently in a time where many social media companies such as Facebook  and Google make the majority of their income through selling our personal information to third parties and advertising based on this personal data. Bernard Harcourt explains this, and describes the way companies ‘want to know everything about you’ for their monetary gain. This view is shared by Tim Cook, Apples CEO.

Harcourt claims that ‘privacy has been privatised,’ further pressing his point that, by creating a more realistic and true profile, we are only giving these platforms more information about ourselves, thus giving them more to sell for their own gain. This begs the question: are we willing to create a more personal online experience at the expense of our privacy?


Online Identity – An Overview (2016). Internet Society. Available at: http://www.internetsociety.org/online-identity-overview

Krotoski, A. (2012). Is online authenticity or anonymity more important?. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity

The Top 20 Facebook Statistics. (2016). Zephoria. Available at: https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/

Apple Boss Tim Cook Slams Google and Facebook for Selling Users’ Data. (2015). The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/apple-boss-tim-cook-slams-google-and-facebook-for-selling-their-users-data-10295158.html

Columbia Law Professor Argues That ‘Privacy has Been Privatised.’ (2016). Business Insider UK. Available at: http://uk.businessinsider.com/facebook-google-information-nsa-iphone-android-data-personal-2016-2


  1. Hi Harry,

    I found your post to be very engaging and easy to read. The presence of a President presentation is always nice to see as they can be a lot more enticing than an ordinary PowerPoint and they are also much easier to embed into a website.
    I found the concept of the phrase ‘privacy has been privatised’ to be something that is easily relatable. However, Jacob Morgan has written a post arguing that we have signed away our privacy. He says that most people’s, sign up to sites without reading the terms and conditions and therefore we have signed away our privacy. The post can be found here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobmorgan/2014/08/19/privacy-is-completely-and-utterly-dead-and-we-killed-it/#44deb594dfbd
    Further to the idea of our privacy I feel that you could have gone more into the idea of professional vs personal as this is an increasingly important issue with 37% of US employers looking at online profiles before they make the decision on whether to employ someone,


    1. Hi Gus, thanks for your response and feedback. I agree that, legally, we as users do not really have a leg to stand on once we agree to the terms and conditions. Maybe you’re onto a point and the only way for us to really get our privacy back is to refuse to sign.

      In addition, I would have liked to have gone into more detail about the issues you brought up, especially having seen the excellent statistic that you gave. However, given the word count, I couldn’t go into as much detail as I would have liked to.


  2. Hi Harry,

    I very much enjoyed reading your post, as I think you’re the only one to have considered the angle of privacy violations by social networks. It is interesting, and slightly intimidating, to think that even with more than one online identity there is no guarantee of privacy and security in the online world. This should make people question the extent to which there is any real merit in creating multiple online identities, for all the complications they cause.

    You also present the counter-argument to this, which is that too much honesty online could lead to your privacy being further compromised for these companies’ own monetary gain. I believe that in a world of increasing connectivity, personal data will become ever more public, mainly in the interests of national security, and this is something that I am prepared to accept. At what level do you think the access of major corporations to our personal data becomes no longer worth the benefits of social online interaction?

    Your post is succinct and straight to the point, presenting a new spin on a topic I thought I had exhausted. The addition of the Prezi slideshow was also a nice touch, giving an overview of your own experience of ‘online identity’.


  3. Hi Harry,

    This was a very interesting read. Your points put forward were structured and flowed throughout. I liked the use of materials in your post like the use of Prezi. It made your blog interactive, and helped convey he points you were making. The addition of your own personal uses of your online identity really add to what you’re saying and give good contextual background.
    I enjoyed he fact you included information on how companies are profiting from us giving up information so easily and hen relating back to the original question a hand. Overall this is a really good post, and the header image really grabs attention due with it fitting well with the question and points you raised.


  4. This is an insightful article that touches on a number of very valid points. In particular, I like how you raise how possessing multiple identities online can be considered a positive thing. In particular, the example you give about using different social media channels in order to cater for different social circles – LinkedInn was not designed to be used casually, in the same way that neither Facebook or Twitter were designed with a strictly professional target market in mind. I feel that one of the main strengths of your piece was identifying the different purposes for these aforementioned tools and explaining through the use of Prezi how, if used appropriately, they can be used to contribute to ones identity as a whole.

    Constructively, whilst I agree that there is a distinct line between fake personas and online personalities, I feel that this line is usually crossed intentionally rather than out of accident or mistake.


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