In light of recent developments with the Ashley Madison hack, questions are being raised about the true expectations and cost of privacy.
Prior to the wide adoption of the Internet by the masses, preserving one's privacy was as simple as deciding not to verbalize personal information to those around you. Today, keeping things private is proving to be more and more difficult, as individuals' own perception of privacy online tends to blur and be misplaced.
For some, sharing information online via an account, associated with user IDs and passwords, private user profiles and secure credit card transactions, somehow "feels" secure and private. In reality, as yet again proven by the Ashley Madison fiasco, nothing is truly private.
Most companies, including Ashley Madison, at their true nature are in the business of data mining—mining for the purpose of using that data to further their business growth and overall market share. Companies like Google (or the new Aplhabet) and Facebook, only exist because everyday users are opening their privacy boundaries in exchange for free service.
For most people, the use of Google’s “free” Gmail services is with the tradeoff, despite obvious sacrifices of privacy. The same applies to individuals spending hours of their time on Facebook, not only freely sharing their personal, private information, but also allowing the website to lock in their attention with thousands of ads, all for “free”.
Until online users learn the difference between the old fashion privacy and the false notion of privacy that is being set on the web, stories like Ashley Madison will continue to happen. In some instances, one's notion of false privacy results in an overall positive effect on the negative situation, in others it could potentially lead to devastating, irreversible circumstances.