Associated Press


Teens migrating to Twitter—sometimes for privacy: …teens and parents shouldn’t assume that even locked accounts are completely private, says Ananda Mitra, a professor of communication at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. Online privacy, he says, is “mythical privacy.”

Certainly, parents are always concerned about online predators — and experts say they should use the same common sense online as they do in the outside world when it comes to dealing with strangers and providing too much personal information.

But there are other privacy issues to consider, Mitra says.

Someone with a public Twitter account might, for instance, retweet a posting made on a friend’s locked account, allowing anyone to see it. It happens all the time.

And on a deeper level, he says those who use Twitter and Facebook — publicly or privately — leave a trail of “digital DNA” that could be mined by universities or employers, law enforcement or advertisers because it is provided voluntarily.

Mitra has coined the term “narb” to describe the narrative bits people reveal about themselves online — age, gender, location and opinions, based on interactions with their friends.

So true privacy, he says, would “literally means withdrawing” from textual communication online or on phones — in essence, using this technology in very limited ways.

He realizes that’s not very likely, the way things are going — but he says it is something to think about when interacting with friends, expressing opinions or even “liking” or following a corporation or public figure.

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