Excuse me while I get personal, here, but we’re one of those households that ex-ed our Xbox One’s Kinect camera. We sold it. We didn’t want anything to do with it. We had a good time using it for Fruit Ninja and full-body workout games, but after a short while, we were done with all of the “fun”, and realized the Kinect felt a little creepy to us (also, it didn’t work the way we wanted it to all the time, especially when it came to counting my darn reps). That’s not to say the Kinect isn’t a completely capable piece of machinery, it did a good job at visual recognition for the time it came out, despite lag and error, which has probably been more than patched by the time we gave up on it. Good thing the Kinect was an accessory piece, not a requirement for using Microsoft’s gaming system. However, when it comes to webcams on computers and laptops, it’s a little bit more difficult to just take the piece of hardware off. It’s built into the machine, and as most people love using cameras to take selfies, a webcam is usually used for things like professional meetings, Skype messaging, and personal video. Oh, and another thing, it’s always just sitting there, “staring at you”.
Believe it or not, the king of kings when it comes to putting yourself out there, also known as the richest millennial in the world, Mark Zuckerberg, has made it abundantly clear (through the voice of his multi-billion dollar social media forum Facebook) that he covers up his very own webcam while at work. This occurred while intending to promote Instagram’s recent milestone of a half-billion monthly users with a selfie and hashtag. Instead, Zuckerberg’s photo included himself at his desk, with his taped laptop in the background, which was apparently unintentional (The Guardian).
So the guy who could look up anything about nearly anyone in the world using his social media kingdom is sticking it to the man. Why? More than likely, it’s because Zuckerberg knows each and every device could become a spy if it wanted to. It’s not just his sharing platform that has issues of privacy. From this Instagram debacle, the Facebook CEO, who “dabbled in a little hacking before starting his venture with social media”, is warning the world that webcams are hacked all the time. As stated by Mashable, Zuckerberg admitted that “even the FBI has hacked into people’s computers to access their webcams for surveillance”, including FBI director James Comey, who “covers his very own webcam”.
If this happens to shock anyone, then you haven’t been paying attention. Then Zuckerberg, after basically saying the words we’ve all been wanting to hear (it’s kinda like McDonald’s providing an ingredients list), tells the public to not be too paranoid because this isn’t a sentence to each and every personal webcam’s privacy. It’s more of a personal preference of how to deal with your own device’s security. Mac users have an advantage over Windows users, whose webcams’ warning lights are controlled deeply in the hardware, making it more difficult to turn the camera on without also turning on the warning light
The only reason this went viral because Zuckerberg had something to do with it. Not only are there multitudes of consumers that already feel imaginary eyeballs looking at them when they use their laptops, but many of them already cover their cameras. Just like our decision to rid ourselves of the Microsoft Kinect, it’s each and everyone’s personal decision of how private they want to be. If there is anything to gain from the story, it’s that security experts are in fact supporting the taping of webcams, and for a variety of reasons. It’s sensible, easy, and if it makes you feel safer, go for it.
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