As the New Year greets us, many have decided to make resolutions. Maybe your resolution is to work out more or pull fewer all-nighters. Maybe it’s to get along better with your roommates or to gossip less. One of mine is to have less computer screen time. After a hiatus from Facebook during finals week and the holidays, I’ve enjoyed a measurable amount of relief from avoiding pointless statuses, embarrassing photos and targeted advertising. My victory was certainly a hollow one however, as I deactivated my account with the full knowledge that all of my content would be readily available if – or rather, when – I decided to get back on the bus.

It’s no secret that Facebook — so easy and comprehensive when chatting with friends or posting pictures — becomes a quagmire when a user attempts to disengage or ultimately delete their profile. The issue boils down to a matter of privacy rights. There is no set of rules that apply across the board when it comes to protecting (read: not selling) customer content. It becomes even trickier when the things a person puts onto the site may not actually belong to them, even though it was entered and saved under their name.

A recent Washington Post article discussed content ownership and how it related to personal privacy. When Friendster and Google Buzz shut down they each informed users that they would not be deleting their data. Their inaction raises the suspicion that this information will be auctioned off to prospective buyers. Of course, whenever you enter your personal information into a website, you risk the danger that your information could be sold to a third party. Sometimes, the company will assure you during registration that personal information will not be accessed by anyone else, but it seems that bankrupt businesses play by different rules. In the case of a site for gay teens called XY, a sale of information was stopped by the FTC. Borders, however, successfully sold its compilation of customer history to Barnes and Noble after it went bankrupt last fall.

Not only is privacy a problem for those of us who wish to simply protect our information, but the same is true for users attempting to maintain control of their content. Kodak Gallery, a site for posting and maintaining photo albums, may soon lose control over the millions of personal collections uploaded to its servers. According to a November 3rd article in USA Today, Eastman Kodak predicted a $400-$600 million loss for the 2011 year. If the company were to sell or file for bankruptcy, their new owner would decide what to do with users’ content. Those who post their comings and goings to Gowalla, a social network specializing in contact through location sharing, are witnesses to a different situation. The social network is integrating into Facebook in the near future, and current Gowalla content will be lost. At that time, users will no longer be able to access their posts. However, Gowalla has informed its customers that they can save their data through a downloading process.

My retreat from the Web world couldn’t have been complete even if I tried. In addition to Facebook’s sneaky policies, I also have a Myspace profile to worry about. I know the avatar of my 14-year-old self is floating out there somewhere, and I’m shuddering just thinking of her inevitable kissy faces. The solution for those of us with skeletons in the closet – whether we’re trying to wrest ownership or finally bury them – lies in passivity. Don’t worry too much about your Web woes and think twice the next time you want to sign up for a file sharing or social media site. Your own digital footprints are more pervasive than you think, and may be viewable through a search engine. This is 2012, and technology is everywhere – the computing cloud hangs over us. It follows us wherever there is Wi-Fi. Those who haven’t yet should probably anticipate surrendering.

Vanessa Rychlinski is a senior editorial page editor.

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