The View from Here: Privacy disappears in a fleeting landscape

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Everyone does stupid things when they’re young, and most of those stupid things you hope go either unnoticed or are forgotten quickly. But with new apps developed to live in the moment and disappear, how much is written in stone?

I recently downloaded the app Periscope. Made by the creator of Twitter, it allows users to stream to live viewers through their phones. I saw plenty of students filming themselves drunk after a party, but most troubling was the stream of two young men who claimed to have broken into a restaurant. Live streaming a crime is new territory. If I had wanted to, it would have been fairly simple to keep the video and screenshots of the event and share it with the world later. I wouldn’t do that, since I have better things to do, but someone out there might have.

Everything you do on the internet exists forever, despite the claims these app creators make. A quick Google search into how to record a Periscope live stream is all you need to have a step-by-step process into how to keep any evidence on your phone forever.

This ability to broadcast yourself to the world isn’t new, but the accessibility is. Before this, you needed a laptop with a webcam and everyone needed to be notified somehow to connect to Ustream or the like. Now it’s a push notification that connects a stream immediately to all of your followers. That’s the other draw to the app: The followers are built in. If you’re popular on Twitter, you already have a base to start streaming to.

The app has it’s flaws: It’s unable to search for nearby streams and the profiles are limited. This follows suit with the ephemeral motive behind the app: Streams can be saved but they will disappear after 24 hours.

In the internet age very little is left as far as privacy goes and this app delves even deeper into people’s personal lives. The line between existing online and in real life is starting to blur, causing student’s decisions now to ultimately affect them in the future.

Privacy at this point is almost an antiquated idea. You already lose that right when you step out your front door. This app brings eyes into hands and homes. This global platform is what the internet was created for. Connectivity, for the most part, is a benefit to apps like these but it’s at the cost of personal ownership.