Height. Weight. Gender Pronoun. Address. These are all things that are considered personal information. But where do the lines blur between personal and private?
Just because some information is personal, doesn’t necessarily mean it is private.
Recently, students and community members discovered that the university collects staff, faculty and students’ personal information, and has the ability to make it public in a directory.
While the University may have access to our height, major and graduation date and have the ability to publish it ‘til the cow’s come home – they don’t do it.
The directory currently available online only features students first and last names and university email addresses.
So while our personal information still remains private, what would happen if the university were to decide to expand the directory and share all of our information publicly?
Would there be widespread backlash? Protests? Bloodshed? No, no and no.
It’s the 21st Century and one thing is true of our generation – we have everything on the Internet anyway.
Granted, some people hate social media and refuse to make profiles, or if they do have a profile refuse to use photos or lock down their privacy settings.
However, the vast majority of people already have their information available online via social media – particularly people who use LinkedIn for professional purposes. You cannot set a LinkedIn page to private, because the whole idea is to network and create links with other professionals.
Anyone could find your entire employment history, including your employer’s address, at any given point in time. And we think that most people are okay with that – that it is becoming the norm to be transparent online about your identity and to direct, and even encourage people to look at personal profiles across assorted social media platforms to get a better picture of the ‘real you’.
Last spring, a survey was released out of the University of Southern California’s Center for the Digital Future that demonstrated Millennials are more willing than any other generation to share information online, especially if they receive something in return (read: marketing gimmicks).
According to the results of the survey, of Millennials, ages 18-34, 56 percent would share their location in order to receive coupons from nearby businesses, versus 42 percent of those 35 and over. Of participants, 25 percent also said they would give away personal information to get more relevant advertising, compared with 19 percent of those over 35.
More than half of Millennials said they would share information with a company if they got something in return.
If we’re so willing to give personal information away online, and readily post it ourselves for others to read, why should the possibility of the university having the ability to do the same bother us?
If any student would like to withhold permission for their personal information to be published by the university, please read the news article on the topic on page A-1.