Quinnipiac Assignment 12 – ICM 552 – Privacy and Big Data
The Price of Handing Over an Email Address
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got when I was first surfing the Internet and beginning to understand the online community was to get a private throwaway email address. The idea was to use an online provider (I originally used Hotmail, and then moved over to Yahoo!) and not give out the address my husband and I had gotten when we signed up for our Internet Service Provider, Brigadoon. Brigadoon is long gone, replaced by several iterations and that service is now provided, in my home, by Comcast.
Eighteen years later, the Yahoo! account is one of my primary email addresses. Although my husband still uses the Comcast address, I almost never do.
It was an odd thing, back then, to use a separate address. We didn’t do this offline, e. g. neither of us had a post office box. Was it an unreasonable push for privacy in a marriage where we had vowed to be open with each other? Or was it a reasonable need for a separate space, almost like a separate set of friends or a man cave?
Of course, as we began to be spammed, I learned why this was such a good idea.
Throwaway Email Addresses
In fact, I also learned that using Gmail was better for activities such as job seeking. Now my resume sports a Gmail address, even though I still read most of my email via Yahoo!
But the throwaway address itself has become a more predominant one for me. And so now I am finding I don’t like it quite so much when it’s put out there.
LinkedIn and My Email Addresses
Once again, LinkedIn is a bit of a bull in a china shop when it comes to email addresses. I currently have several addresses on my account, some of which are no longer active. However, if I attempt to apply for a job through the LinkedIn site, a drop down menu appears where my email address will be added. There is no opting out. You have to pick an email address to be sent along with your application, even though it’s possible to communicate on LinkedIn itself. Your telephone number can be altered or deleted, but not an email address. You have to send one along to whoever posted the job.
Does this compromise privacy? I think it does, as there are a lot of reasons why I might want to remain a bit hidden when applying for a job. Employers are able to post jobs anonymously, but potential employees aren’t being given that luxury when it comes to applying for those same openings. It’s just another example of potential employees and their possible future employers not being on anywhere near the same level.
And maybe, just maybe, LinkedIn should rethink this policy, and give job seekers an opportunity to hide themselves better, at least when the initial application goes out.