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Positives And Negatives Of Being Online

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Every day, more and more people use the internet to engage in and with society. Wi-Fi, smartphones and social media have made this very simple and common. Consequently, a good digital citizenship (in other words, digital etiquette) is more important and significant than ever before. It teaches us how we should act when we are online, how to use technology appropriately, responsibly and legally. It reminds us that while communicating with others we should behave morally, treat them the way we want to be treated and report any unethical behaviours such as cyberbullying, abuse or harassment, which has increased with the use of digital devices. Other negative impacts of being online are being distracted from other important tasks, internet and gaming addictions, false information and privacy and security risks.

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Being aware of the fact that everything we say or show online leaves a digital footprint saves us from possible negative and long-term consequences.

Aside from all the negative impacts of the digital citizenship, there are numerous positive ones. We can interact with anyone and anywhere, we can express ourselves, share ideas, learn from others or teach them, get news instantly, make payments easily and quickly, advertise ourselves or our company etc.

There are, unfortunately, issues in society relating to personal data. The internet creators and early users in the 1990s saw the internet as a space of freedom with no limits or restrictions; a place where people from all nations could collaborate together. However, governments started to define the internet as a regulated space, mainly because online anonymity soon led to computer crime. One tool assisting authorities in fighting crimes like gangsterism, paedophilia or terrorism is data analytics.

With new technology and algorithms, large databases of personal data can be stored and analysed. Big Data computing can find patterns in a human mind, predict user behaviour and has expanded rapidly. Concern about Big Data started with a discovery by Cambridge researcher Joseph Bonneau, who uncovered that Facebook and six other sites kept users’ ‘deleted’ data. We don’t know what data was collected by who and for what reason. To tackle this issue, the EU this year introduced GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which gives users control over their personal data.

However, another issue about the Big Data is that we don’t know exactly how algorithms are working. ‘How Google’s search algorithm decides what to place at the top of its result list is understood by only a small handful of people-and yet it determines what information 90 percent of Europe’s internet users find. ‘ Sadly, with the storing of important information (for example, users credit card details), there comes security risks. We can see major data breaches have occurred with many companies; for instance, Ticketmaster’s incident from this year affected up to 40 000 customers, British Airways’ hack compromised data of about 380 000 people, and a 2017 cyber-attack on the credit rating company Equifax exposed the personal information of 146 million people around the world.

29 April 2020

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