You’ve been bested by a goldfish!

Your data will outlive you. And, it’s out there forever!

If you think your private information is really private, in the words of the rock band Judas Priest, “you’ve got another thing comin!” At a recent Ted Talk from September of 2018, Finn Lutzow-Holm Myrstad shared some disturbing facts from an experiment his team conducted. After setting up a profile on a popular dating site, they discovered that “hidden behind the main menu was a pre-ticked box that gave the dating company access to all my personal pictures on Facebook.  And to make matters worse when we read the terms and conditions we discovered the following:

By posting content, and content refers to your pictures, chat, and other interactions in the dating service – as a part of the Service,           you automatically grant to the Company, its affiliates, licensees and successor, an irrevocable (which means you can’t change your mind), perpetual (which means forever), non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, fully paid-up worldwide right and license to (i) use, copy store, perform, display, reproduce, record, play, adapt, modify and distribute the Content, (ii) prepare derivative works of the Content or incorporate the Content into other works, and (iii) grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing in any media now known or hereafter created” [Video file].

I know that’s a long quote, but what it means is this company can use your information in whatever way they want an and use it forever.  This is very unnerving because this information was hidden and had already been ticked saying we agreed to these terms.  Now I don’t know about you, but even if I do have time to read the terms and conditions on every app that’s on my phone or computer, I may not have the patience to slug my way through all of that legalese.  And that’s if I can find the hidden information in the first place. In this fast-paced world, I think it’s fair to say that not only don’t have the patience to look for and read through all of this but if the information isn’t easy to digest, we might get bored and something else may capture our attention.  With so much at our fingertips, if something isn’t interesting, we move on and fast. According to Kevin McSpadden, writing an article for Time, he states, “The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the effects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain” (para 1). If humans now concentrate less effectively than goldfish, these companies have already won because we will just blindly go on ticking boxes and giving away or content and our privacy.

How does this relate to you the artist? Well, in a few ways.

1.) You can’t delete everything, it’s already gone. Your past posts are still affecting you whether you removed them or not because all of the information you have posted is still out there somewhere and people, record companies or fans can find it. While there’s not much you can do about your past posts to online apps, you must develop a strategic plan for your online world moving forward. Every communication, every outfit, every post, every picture, and every video can and will affect your jobs and your fanbase in the future. What if a major artist wants to find a new opening act to go on tour with them, and they start mining for information about you online.  Well, it could be your political views oppose theirs, a fact they wouldn’t have known if you didn’t engage in conversations and memes on Facebook about politics. Or maybe you have a ton of photos of you and friends hanging out enjoying a multitude of “adult beverages,” and this artist is a recovering alcoholic, you may not even get a chance.  Or what if you just choose to air dirty laundry on apps, questionable photos or conversations that resort to name calling?  What if you called someone a name as a joke, but if you’re not in your little group, you might mistake it as derogatory or defamatory language? Who wants to deal with that on the road?  See my point?  From this moment forward, you have to present only what you want to the world, because your information is no longer a private affair.

2.) You should control your narrative. If for some reason someone uses your information in a negative way against you, you will have a record of your life that can be used to contradict the allegations.  If let’s say, you have been blogging, and planning and monitoring your online profile strategically you will have some recourse, a history of behavior and actions to back you up.  In other words, you control your narrative.  Don’t leave your reputation up to big companies who, don’t know you and don’t care about you, and can sell your information whenever they want, and did I mention, they can do that forever! This is a huge deal if you’re going to create a reputation and a persona, you’ll have to let your information out on your terms in the way you want to be seen. Be proactive when it comes to your reputation and how you want your fans to view you.  Your data will outlive you.  Which is kind of cool, if you think about it, but how do you want to be remembered or viewed.  What is the story of your life?  Autobiographers could take liberties in the past, but if your life is well documented, you have control over how your life and your works are presented, forever.

3.) And because you are responsible.  You might consider your responsiblity to future generations and young children who will be interacting with your online content. If you’re going to use Apps to share information and create interactive platforms you might want to research the companies you’re using, so you’re not passing these unscrupulous tactics on to your fans.  Not only will the fans be upset, but many artists have many generations of fans, and their children and grandchildren will be interacting with you, your music and your platforms.  I hear from artists all the time how cool they think it is that a fan came to the show with their grandchild and they enjoyed the concert just as much as the adult. Although I think the notion of privacy has changed in this new digital world, I believe it is something we must guard and fight to maintain.  Laws should be passed that will hold companies accountable for their online privacy behaviors, but until then, it’s up to us to stay on top the companies and their rules for fair and just privacy settings.  Immediately, we should all make sure that we are using the highest level of privacy setting in all of the apps and devices.  Hopefully in the future privacy will become a more accessible feature on every app and device.  One day I believe protecting privacy will be the default and not merely an option.


McSpadden, Kevin. (May 14, 2015). Time. You now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish.  Retrieved from:

Ted Talks (Producer). (September 2018). How tech companies deceive you into giving up your data and privacy. Finn Lutzow-Holm Myrstad. Ted Talks [Video file].  Retrieved from