SocialSmarts: Privacy, the Internet and You
Amy and Dave, a pair of teenage siblings, walk through the front doors of Parkademy Secondary School. Dave has his smartphone in his hand.
AMY: Well... I guess this is it!
INSERT PANEL of Dave's phone. He's on Twitter, typing a tweet with one hand: "First day for me and @AmyStar at #Parkademy! New school, new friends?"
Dave and Amy are hailed by Eve, a girl about their age.
EVE: Hey guys! Welcome!
DAVE: What's up, cuz?
Dave, Amy and Eve are engaged in excited conversation.
EVE: You guys are going to love it here! I told everyone that my cousins were coming. Let me show you around.
A wide panel showing a long stretch of one of Parkademy's hallways: rows of lockers, doorways to classrooms. As Dave, Amy and Eve walk along, we overhear the conversations of their fellow students, which seem to concern them; furthermore, everyone seems to be looking at them. Amy and Dave appear puzzled, their heads swiveling back and forth in confusion.
STUDENT: Wow, sweet top Amy’s wearing! I’ve got the same one!
STUDENT: I wonder if Dave’s really going to throw out his jersey after that game last night?
STUDENT: Loved that picture of Amy snowboarding!
STUDENT: You think Dave got those concert tickets he was waiting for?
STUDENT: I love Amy’s new haircut!
AMY: What the...
Dave, Amy and Eve stop in the middle of the hallway, confused. Dave's phone buzzes.
AMY: Wait a second here. How does everybody know so much about us already?
DAVE (looking at his buzzing phone): Huh?
An over-the-shoulder shot of Dave holding up his phone, so we can see the screen clearly. The phone is displaying the face (and limbs) of a talking anthropomorphic phone character.
PHONE: I told 'em! Or should I say... you did!
Dave, Amy and Eve crowd around the phone, looking at it with wide-eyed curiosity.
AMY: Huh? Who are you?
DAVE: Yeah, and what do you mean you told everybody about us?
A close-up of the phone in Dave's hand.
PHONE: I’m your phone. And what I said was that YOU told 'em! Every time you update your status, check in to a location, post a photo or use any other social networking site or app, you're sharing that information with tons of people out there! Unless you lock your privacy settings down super-tight, pretty much anybody who knows your name can figure out a lot more about you than you might think! Let me show you...
The rest of this page is taken up by a collage-style illustration of Amy, made up of overlapping snippets of photos. Next to each one is a caption box, each containing a different snippet of a status update/tweet/etc from which the info in the photo can be inferred.
1. Amy's head, done up in a new haircut.
CAPTION: A check-in to a hair salon, with the accompanying status "Getting my hair done for my first day at #Parkademy tomorrow!"
2. Amy's blouse.
CAPTION: A status showing Amy "thumbs-upping" a clothing company. CLOTHING SALE.
3. Amy's legs, in winter sports gear, her feet on a snowboard.
CAPTION: A photo of Amy at the top of a snowboarding run, with the caption "Best holiday ever!"
4. Amy's left hand, holding a portable video camera.
CAPTION: A status update: "Getting ready to shoot a video for my friend's new band!"
5. Amy's right hand, holding a soccer ball.
CAPTION: A screenshot of a video page, titled "Cedar Hill Strikers Practice Video."
PHONE (in the lower-left hand corner): It all adds up!
A similar illustration of Dave, made-up of the same kinds of overlapping photos and status captions.
1. Dave's head; he's wearing headphones.
CAPTION: An update: "Listening to Geeks & Heroes"
2. Dave's shirt, a jersey.
CAPTION: A status from @DaveTheDude: "Ugh. Gonna throw out my jersey after that #fail of a game tonight!"
3. Dave's right hand, holding a pair of concert tickets.
CAPTION: A status: "Geeks & Heroes tix on sale at noon!!!"
4. Dave's left hand, holding a video game controller.
CAPTION: A check-in, "Waiting in line for the midnight launch of my favourite game!"
5. Dave's legs; in the background we can see his house.
CAPTION: "Home sweet home!"
PHONE: You've painted quite a picture there!
In the lower-right hand corner of the page, we see the phone, Dave, Amy and Eve conversing.
PHONE: You see? All the stuff you do, all the places you go – you're putting all this stuff out there.
DAVE: Huh, I guess we should be a little more careful...
EVE: Hey, speaking of "places to go," there's a dance tonight! You guys have to come!
A large panel showing the Parkademy Secondary School dance in full swing: the school's gymnasium, decorated with balloons and streamers, is full of kids milling around. On the left-hand side of the panel, Amy stands talking to Marc. On the right-hand side of the page, Dave can be seen pulling some wacky moves on the dancefloor as people stand around, smile and laugh.
CAPTION: That night...
MARC: ...You should have seen the look on my mom's face when she saw my brother standing there with his underwear on his head. It was hilarious.
AMY: You better watch out. He's going to get back at you one day.
A closer shot of Amy and Marc talking.
MARC: Don't you worry about that. Hey, want some punch?
AMY: Sure, that'd be great!
Marc leaves; Amy pulls out her phone.
A close-up of Amy's phone. Amy is texting Eve:
AMY'S TEXT: Hey, that Marc guy is kinda cute...
Amy looks up as she hears some commotion/laughter behind her.
Amy rushes over to the dancefloor, phone still in hand.
AMY: I gotta get a shot of this.
Another close-up shot of Amy's phone, but this panel is larger. She's got her camera app open, and we can see, via the screen, Dave on the dance floor, doing some ridiculous head-spin dance move.
AMY (off-panel): I am SO posting this!
The phone's screen transforms into the phone's face. He's got a wicked grin.
PHONE: You sure about that?
Amy, holding the phone in her hand, has a puzzled look on her face.
AMY: Well, why not?
PHONE (chuckling): Oh... no reason.
Dave and Amy are walking down the hall of the school, chatting. Other students can be seen in the background, whispering to each other.
CAPTION: The next day...
DAVE: ...so I think I might risk the cafeteria for lunch today, wanna try it?
AMY: Sounds dangerous. But, why not... Hey...
Amy notices a poster hanging on the hallway wall.
AMY: What's this?
A close-up of the poster. It's Amy's picture of Dave dancing from the night before, with the caption "DANCING LIKE CELEBS"
DAVE (off-panel): Wait a second...
A wider shot of Dave and Amy surrounded by snickering classmates, some of whom are imitating his fancy dance moves. The phone is sitting on Dave's shoulder.
DAVE: That's me!!
AMY: I guess they all saw my posts!
PHONE: And they weren't the only ones! Check this out!
A collage of "mash-ups" of Dave's dancing picture; he appears in front of the Eiffel Tower, in other silly situations.
Dave, looking, appalled, at the phone.
DAVE: This is so not cool! How do I get rid of these?
PHONE: You can't! Once you put a picture on the internet, it can be there forever.
The phone in close-up.
PHONE: Yup. Once it's online, it can be copied, cached, stored on countless servers and hard drives. There's just no way to get it back.
Dave and Amy talking to the phone. Amy is reaching for something in her pocket.
DAVE: Wow. I guess I should be grateful it's not worse. And YOU, Amy, should watch what you do with that phone of yours!
AMY: Eeps... I promise I will be... Hey... wait...
Amy's hand comes out of her pocket, empty.
AMY: Oh no! Where's my phone! I lost it... or... it was stolen!
The upper third of the page is made up of three or so wide panels, each featuring a different status update on a different social media service.
STATUS UPDATE: Amy Drover LOVES Marc
@AMYSTAR: I am in loooooooove with Marc. He is such a hottie.
TEXT MESSAGE (being sent to ALL FRIENDS): I’m SO into Marc!
Send to all.
A row of three action panels at the bottom of the page. Amy sits at a classroom computer, mortified.
AMY: No way
DAVE (also looking at the screen): Wow. Just... wow. Looks like your accounts have been hacked.
Same basic layout as the previous panel.
AMY: How did this HAPPEN?! How did someone get into my accounts and how... (whispering, in smaller font) How did they know that I thought Marc was cute??
Same layout as before, but this time, Marc is walking by. He looks... awkward.
MARC: Uh... Hi... I mean...
Same as before, but now Marc is gone. Amy's head is on the desk. There's a buzzing coming from Dave's pocket.
AMY: Oh gosh... WHY?! HOW?!
The phone appears on the desk, talking to Amy.
PHONE: You DID put a good password on your phone, right?
AMY: A password? No, why?
A close-up of the phone.
PHONE: Without a tough-to-guess password, whoever swiped – or found – your phone can have access to all the personal data you store on there. All your contacts, all your texts. And that's not even the worst part!
A larger, tall panel of the phone, who's pointing to app icons that have appeared on his screen.
PHONE: If you have social media apps on your phone, whoever has it can easily log on as you and post whatever they want! They can read a text message you sent, for instance, about a certain guy named Marc... and post all about him all over your accounts.
Dave and Amy in front of the computer, watching the phone, who's perched on top of the monitor, pointing at the page open on it.
AMY: I never even realized that! Guess I should probably put a password on my phone when I get a new one... if I can ever afford a new one, that is!
PHONE: Good idea. But before you do that, make sure you change all the passwords to any web services you could access from your phone.
A wider shot of Amy, Dave and the phone.
DAVE: Come to think of it, I’m going to make my own password a little stronger than “1234”… there are definitely some things on there I don’t want people seeing!
AMY: Like what?
DAVE: Uhh... nothing! Forget I said anything! Don't you have a password to change?
A suburban house. Dave stands in front of the front door, in the act of ringing the doorbell.
CAPTION: A few days later...
The door opens. It's Nathan.
NATHAN: Hey man, come on in!
A wide panel of Dave and Nathan sitting on the couch. Dave is taking a video game controller. Nathan is wearing a headset microphone that allows him to communicate with other players in the game.
DAVE: Thanks for having me over, Nathan!
NATHAN: No problem. Always glad to see a new student at Parkademy who's a gamer. So what do you think of Epic Combat II?
DAVE: Looks awesome!
Same as before.
NATHAN: Argh! No!!!
DAVE: Wow, I didn't even see that guy there. Then all the sudden, BOOM... he blasted you!
NATHAN: I hate that guy. He calls himself MYSTERYMAN. He never leaves me alone!
MYSTERYMAN (from TV set): Hey ICEWARRIOR, how do you like getting blasted by me AGAIN?
Same setup as before.
MYSTERYMAN: You gonna go crying to all your friends at Parkademy about it, four-eyes?
NATHAN: How does he know all this stuff about me?
DAVE: Nathan... Looks like you told him!
An insert panel of the phone.
PHONE: Hey, I was gonna say that!
Dave is standing in front of Nathan's TV, pointing at it. Nathan's gaming avatar, which is designed to look like him, is on-screen.
DAVE: Look at all the info people can find out from you just from your avatar and searching for your user-name! Someone can pretty easily guess the way you look, the city you live in…
Insert panel of the phone.
PHONE: Took the words right out of my mouth... I mean, speaker!
A big panel featuring Nathan's couch, but enlarged and full of dozens of other players, all wearing headsets, crammed next to him, sitting on each other's shoulders, etc. Dave stands to one side, the phone poised on his shoulder.
PHONE: And that's not even the worst part! Let’s say you're playing an online game with audio chat. If you’re playing in multiplayer mode, with your headset on, others may hear everything you’re saying. So you should think about that when mentioning details about your private life... and remember to hit the mute button whenever you say something you don't want dozens of strangers to hear! Cuz when you're online, you might as well be sitting next to everyone else who is, too!
Dave and Nathan back on the couch.
DAVE: Never thought of that! And hey, if MYSTERYMAN keeps bugging you, you know you can always mute him!
NATHAN: You know, I would, but there's one problem with that...
DAVE: What's that?
NATHAN: I want to hear him beg for mercy when I get my revenge!
In the upper-left hand panel, we see a shot of Nathan's wall. Dave is posting an update on his wall:
CAPTION: Later that night...
DAVE'S POST: Thanks for having me over tonight! Let's get together and beat MYSTERYMAN again soon!
Amy is looking over Dave's shoulder as he sits at his computer. The phone stands on the computer.
AMY: Make sure you set the privacy settings for that update so only your buddies can see it!
DAVE: Oh yeah, good call!
PHONE: That's not exactly right...
The rest of the page is taken up by this panel, which is a large illustration of Dave in profile, sitting at his computer. We can see various bubbles containing text he's entering on social media popping out of the monitor:
1. Becoming a “fan” of a band’s page, Geeks & Heroes
2. Entering a status update saying "Can't wait to go windsurfing tomorrow!"
3. "Checking in" to a burger joint
4. Seeing an ad for “WINDSURFING LESSONS: Click now to find out more”
PHONE: Ever wonder how social networking sites can afford to provide all these services to hundreds of millions of users for free? They do it with your help – by using all the data you happily give them.
A mirror-reflection of Panel 3 on the previous page, only there are multiple people sitting, in profile, at their computers, around Amy.
PHONE: Everything you add to your profile, every place you check into, every event you attend can be used to create ads made specifically to appeal to you! So, don't think of yourself as a customer when using these sites – what you really are is the PRODUCT!
Dave and Amy at the computer, talking to the phone.
AMY: Wow, I never really thought of that before! I wonder if I should just stop posting at all...
PHONE: That's not what I'm saying. After all, these sites are giving you a service you like and use every day, right? You just gotta be aware of what they're getting out of the deal!
Similar set-up of Dave and Amy talking to the phone.
DAVE: It's almost like we're working for them! It's weird, but good to know what exactly is going on behind the scenes.
PHONE: Or behind the screens!
AMY: I'm definitely not going to "like" that joke.
Dave, Amy, Eve and Nathan are sitting around a cafeteria table, chatting.
CAPTION: Next day at lunch...
NATHAN: And I saw ANOTHER one this week... it was you dancing on top of the CN Tower!
DAVE: Oh no, that's so embarrassing. Haha, I guess it could have been a lot worse. I'm going to be a lot more careful whenever I see a camera... or a phone... in anybody's hand again! But Amy, you better be especially careful with what you do with all those photos you’re always taking!
Another shot of them talking and laughing.
AMY: Well at least you didn't get totally hacked. It really never occurred to me that you could access all my accounts from my phone! It’s like my whole life is on there.
NATHAN: It's also definitely weird how much stuff about us is out there without us even realizing it.
DAVE: Yeah. I'm not going to stop using the internet or anything, but maybe I need to tighten my privacy settings and think for a sec before I throw stuff online.
Dave, Eve and Nathan get up from the table.
DAVE: I better get to class! See you guys later!
EVE: Later guys!
Amy is still at the table, gathering up her stuff. Marc walks into frame.
MARC: Oh... uh... Hi!
AMY: Uh... hi.
Amy stands to talk to Marc. The phone is visible on the table.
MARC: I was wondering... If you have a free period now... if you wanted to maybe hang out?
AMY: Me? Oh... uh... yeah... I mean... totally!
PHONE: Hey, can I come too?
Amy holding the phone, with her finger on the power button.
AMY: Actually, I think one of the most valuable lessons I've learned this week... is when to turn my phone OFF.
CAPTION (in lower-right corner): THE END
10 Tips to Protect Your Privacy Online
- Think before you click!
- Know who your friends are
- Tighten your privacy settings
- Avoid disclosing your location
- Don’t share your password and change it regularly
- Trust your instincts
- Understand new features such as geo-tagging before you try them
- Be aware of your online reputation
- Protect your privacy, as well as that of your friends
- Be discreet
For more information on privacy,
visit our Website for youth, parents and educators at:
Follow us on Twitter: @privacyprivee
Watch us on YouTube: privacycomm
Writing by Mark Slutsky
Illustration by Daniel Buller
Lettering by Chris Tucker
- Date modified: