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Today, privacy is more a privilege than a right

Technology may be helping academic success, efficiency and the overall contemporary American life. But, it’s also degenerating society’s concept of privacy.

Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone article and the Daily 49er perv-Tumblr article has made it clear that we not only underestimate technology’s ability to aid stalking, but we also underestimate the increasing loss of individual privacy.

“It takes a coordinated community to effectively take on stalking,” Stalking Resource Center director Michelle Garcia said in a 2010 Department of Justice panel discussing on the topic.

When we were growing up, we all got mad at our parents when they read our diaries, or similarly, when our significant others read our texts and emails. So, wouldn’t it be hypocritical of us to spend so many hours on Facebook flipping through someone’s entire picture album?  

While the Girls of Long Beach had more than just privacy issues, the point of the matter is that all the “perv” needed was a computer with Internet connection and a camera to degrade females — and males — of the Long Beach community, or any community for that matter.

 To resist checking other people’s social media profiles is like not grabbing that free coffee sample when you walk by a Starbucks; it’s practically impossible. Let’s face it, we can’t get mad when we’re posting the pictures ourselves, often with the hopes of telling people who weren’t there, “Look at how much fun I had and how many friends I have.”  

We really need to re-evaluate if “Facebook stalking” is a term we are perfectly comfortable using, because it still has the word “stalk.” A reason it’s often redeemable is the distorted parallel between cyber stalking and the paparazzis’ hounding of celebrities and it is.  

Celebrities, while owing a certain extent of information to the public, are harassed constantly and destroyed by magazines attempting to make an extra buck. And yet, we purchase these magazines and condone it all.

Furthermore, we feel important if someone cares enough about us to “stalk” us, if you will.  

Taibbi explains in a recent article about his and his fellow journalists’ victimization while participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement. He exposes right-wing author and blogger Andrew Beibart in his participation in the infiltrating of private email lists between journalists and financial advisors involved in the movement.  

Beibart’s purpose: to prove that Occupy Wall Street is a puppet show orchestrated by the liberal media.  

Consenting of this action were various reports who describe another hacker involved, Thomas Ryan, as a “private cyber security researcher.” He not only accessed the emails, but also fed them to website BigGovernment.com, the FBI and NYPD.

 While this is an extreme example, the reality is that it is especially easy to justify this invasion for the people’s need to know. Taibbi makes a good point by saying that instead of pointing out the invasion of private conversations, the right wing journalists have benefitted from this.

 They have been made famous for their supposed exposure of liberal journalists leading of these “socialist and communist groups,” as Andrew Beibart himself said in an interview with Fox News.  

By allowing this level of invasion, we are setting ourselves up for people being able to destroy our own lives.

 Seattle woman Sherri Peak found out that technology could be detrimental to the obsessive compulsive the hard way when her ex-husband Robert stalked her via GPS system and a cell phone he installed in her Toyota Land Cruiser. While a GPS system is quite common, the cell phone would pick up automatically without ringing at all, picking up all of Sherri’s conversations.  

Despite this, the growing epidemic of stalkers that lurk on the Internet are much worse than the ones in person because of their facilitated access to people’s personal information.

Nayeli Carrillo is a senior journalism major and contirbuting writer for the Daily 49er.

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