Whom Do We Trust With Our Private Information?

Consider the following three situations:

While vacationing in the Catskills this summer, you receive an alert from the fraud prevention unit of your bank. They noticed unusual activity on your debit card, which racked up substantial purchases in a location where the card is seldom used. Within minutes, they were prepared to freeze the card, preventing any further unauthorized use and losses.

In the past, when planning to spend a Shabbos away from home, many would make sure that the house retained a lived-in look. Lights were left on in certain rooms, a car was left in the driveway, with the hope that these would diminish the likelihood of a break-in by thieves.

As parents prepare the “shidduch resume/profile” for their child, they deliberate what to include, whom to list as references, and other minutiae with which to present their tachshit in the most positive light. Should this neighbor, who might inadvertently share some unflattering information, be listed? Which Rav will portray the family in the proper light?

Now let us examine how these very situations might play out in the current environment. Imagine a family that publicizes their vacation plans, letting the world know where they spend each July or August… where they shop while they enjoy their respite… and the amount they spend on their meals in restaurants, entertainment venues and the like. Surely, the chance that the Fraud Prevention Department will catch the unusual activity is greatly diminished.

The same holds true for the Shabbos away from home. If we broadcast that we will be out of town for our cousin’s bar mitzvah or nephew’s sheva brachos, would the lights in the living room keep up the appearance of the house as being occupied? Indeed, the car in the driveway might itself be in danger of being burglarized!

Finally, if our every move, thought and interaction with our neighbors, friends and mentors is an open book, can we expect to have any control over how we are viewed by those who might otherwise be interested in our precious child as a spouse for their son or daughter?

Enter Facebook, the social media giant that millions of people trust with their private activities and their plans. As they sit at their keyboards or with their cell phones, they unintentionally let the stream of consciousness unload confidential information, allowing the world into their inner sanctum and sharing information that can endanger their property, families, and more.

Just think to what entity you are entrusting this information. As we saw just this past week, a major breach in Facebook allowed hackers access to the personal information of fifty-million users. The inadaqency of the company, driven by the desire to increase profits and achieve supremacy in the global market, has been exposed. It failed in the protection of the details of its users’ lives.

For those thinking of posting these details on such platforms, ponder this thought: Is it appropriate for the nation “which dwells alone” to exchange the tznius of the “Ohalecha Yaakov” for the pretentiousness of the “Migdal Bavel”?

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