Any talk about privacy is a complicated (usually) and touchy subject. In today's world, privacy is an ever eroding pleasure to be had. Numerous cases, like the monumental Kat'z vs United States, have been fought to hold on to this right.
So talking about privacy in the domain that we call the internet is as expected, a whole different matter. Its full of personal and public information, posted by people like you and me. To some it may seem trivial, but any lead is a good enough lead (usually). And our society today has made the repercussions of these actions acceptable; and sometimes even 'fun'.
As an epitome, look at Facebook. As of last year, there are 500,000,000 users. A number that would have increased exponentially so far. Here are some interesting statistics on the culture of Facebook:
Facebook is, as you can see, a jackpot for anyone who wishes to find information on, basically, anyone. It contains so much information, that its now become a business. A very profitable one indeed. Coming back to the point, Facebook's goal looks simple: find friends, share information, connect and collaborate. Its so easy(and 'fun') that personal privacy barriers almost vanish. Information that need not be shared somehow winds up as the status just to impress people. Our society has been desensitized (we no longer watch our step) to reveal information that we otherwise would not reveal to people face to face. We friend people we barely (and sometimes don't) know. Everyone is guilty of this fact.
Our minds have also been desensitized to think that these actions are OK. Though there are many instances of suicide, theft and murder that have been conceived and caused by social media, people are ignorant to these facts. The events have been stored in the bottom layer of everyone's minds; after all, why would friends hurt you?
A certain paragraph from Andrew Keens article on the subject sums up my point beautifully:
"Now, I don't mean to flame Facebook; every single type of social media has the potential Facebook has (like Twitter). And none of these sites are bad by themselves. Its what we make of them that pulls us down. What it means, of course, is that we are creating a world in which our sense of identity, of who we actually are, is defined by what others think of us. Social media's ubiquity means that we are losing that most precious of human things -- our sense of self . Our devices are always on; our "Timeline" (Facebook's product which greedily attempts to capture our entire life narrative) is there for everyone to see; we are living in public on a radically transparent global network that, by 2020, will be fed by 50 billion intelligent devices carried by the majority of people on the planet."
It is for us to decide how we use such features as we move ahead. We must excercise control, something I find is very lacking in today's world/society. Anything that goes on the internet will stay there for-ever. Our actions may not have consequences now, but you may just face them later.
Great Articles on this topic: