I think I can safely say (excuse the pun that will become apparent very shortly) that the vast majority of people like to be safe, secure and protected in their homes, in their lives… and online.
I believe I’d also be correct in assuming that most people also like to have privacy in their own homes, in their lives… and - yes, you guessed it - online. But can we have both without having to sacrifice one for the other?
Extensive CCTV would suggest not, and has resulted in a ‘big brother’ society where our every move is watched and recorded. Understandably this is for our own protection, to deter people from doing things like mugging us in the street, witnessing it if they do and catching us if we do the mugging! (Just an example, not a confession).
However, to gain this reassurance that our ‘big brother’ is watching over us we give up our right to mooch down the street without the feeling that we’re being stared at. So when does security become spying? I personally find it quite easy to walk around in a day dream without worrying who is watching – to be honest I’m slightly suspicious of those who have a problem with it (what do they have to hide?) If I want privacy I stay in my home because let’s face it, how much privacy can you actually get in a public place anyway?
This exact same dilemma presents itself online too. A school district in America has started a ‘snooping programme’, meaning they can monitor the social network pages of their pupils in order to nip bullying in the bud and pick up on any suicidal tendencies or cries for help that may be posted.
They claim this 'homemade' form of Twitter and Facebook moderation is effective. But are they stopping the bullying or just making bullies aware they are being watched and so returning the age-old problem back to the playground where it started?
If this method is stopping cyber-bullying and saving the lives of troubled youngsters, that’s great! But it also means the kids can’t freely express themselves without their teachers seeing – which could have a detrimental effect and even drive them to do it in altogether less acceptable ways.
It seems that we can’t really have it both ways – we can’t make a safety omelette without cracking a few privacy eggs. The only real way to stay safe online without having someone constantly watching your every click is by using websites that implement a top-notch online moderation service like Crisp’s. Crisp's social media moderation means you can go about your business without a care in the world but you'll be almost instantly protected from trolls and cyber-bullies, and the guilty parties will be dealt with appropriately.
It’s otherwise pretty much impossible to be protected while no one is watching, get justice in a criminal trial with no witnesses, or have your ‘big brother’ step in to help if his back is turned. If nobody was watching we’d be on our own, and therefore be responsible for our own well being.
But this is just my opinion. Do we have to choose? What do you think? Please feel free to comment!