You cannot reasonably expect that any information shared online is completely private.
The reality is that we do.
People gossip on Twitter, slant people on Facebook or even upload videos to YouTube. Hell everyone can admit to saying something via email they regret….
Let me explain to you why it’s dead.
Firstly if what you are sharing is juicy enough, the people that see it will get it out, just look at failbooking.com (yes they blur the names) but you get the point, if it’s newsworthy enough it’ll get out.
Michael Phelps found this out when photos of him with drug paraphelia popped up on Facebook – sure enough someone within his network leaked it. So that’s the biggest sieve – YOU and ME. We can’t be trusted.
Everyone is hackable, like the first point, we all have security leaks. Whether it’s the fact all our passwords are the same, we leave our email logged in or our forgotten password questions are weak.
My point is, in a targetted attacked all of us are vulnerable, Sarah Palin even had her Yahoo email hacked during the US election. How? They guessed the answer to her secret question. If it’s online and can be identified as coming from you, chances are someone can eventually access it.
That’s not even getting into how your data is transferred. Under recent law changes ISPS in New Zealand (and many places around the world) have internet filters on, to ensure people don’t access a blacklist of websites, for obvious reasons they don’t publish the list of websites (which rightfully scares some people). However this means, somewhere along the line a computer program is examining the website you’re looking at to see if it’s a ok.
Further the path from your computer to the recipient is loose, work emails for example are often monitored (and archived). If you work in the public sector policy is to retain a copy of all emails. Even then your information is often not secure, frequently instant messaging services do not encrypt their communications, meaning people can snoop in on the conversation.
The longevity of information online is virtually indefinite (in terms of our lifetimes) lets say you say something you regret via email so delete it. However if the recipient doesn’t also do the same… it can pop up again in the future. Online communications leave a breadcrumb… which can be followed.
In short, do not share information you don’t reasonably expect to pop up again at some point in the future. It’s just dumb.