Back in the late 1900s, the internet was seen by many as little more than a time-wasting gimmick, rather than a world-changing tool.
Now, most of us own connected technologies of one kind or another, and are signed up to a plethora of online services.
Today, it has become commonplace to grab your smartphone to idly flick through social media feeds, send emails, check up on the news, buy stuff, and browse the internet for cute pictures of cats.
Mobile devices are certainly a convenient way to get things done, but most people don't fully appreciate how much of their data is being given away as they browse and comment their way around the internet.
According to IBM, humans create an estimated 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. Some 90 per cent of this data has been generated within the past two years alone, it claims. It comes from sensors, social media posts, multimedia, purchase transactions, GPS signals and everything else you do on the internet.
Many organisations continue to - put it mildly - push the boundaries of both acceptability and the law
Yep, that's your life, stored in a series of databases, forever. And who knows who could be peering in to try and find out more about you, for whatever purpose?
There are some efforts to try to protect all of this data and restrict the scope for its abuse. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will come into force in May, is one example.
It's intended to give more rights to users over the data they generate, and companies that fail to adhere to the law risk facing some hefty fines.
The reality, though, is that many organisations continue to - put it mildly - push the boundaries of both acceptability and the law. Social media firm Facebook, for instance, is currently embroiled in yet-another data privacy debacle.
People are not aware how all the inputs they give to the internet are used
Last week, it emerged that the platform somehow let market research firm Cambridge Analytica, which claims to be able to conduct "pyschographic analysis" of user profile, to scoop-up the Facebook profiles of some 50 million users.
The company then sold its expertise to political campaigns, claiming that it could help them to tailor precise messages targeted at an individual level. Whether it was really as good as its big-mouthed now-suspended CEO claimed is open to question - but that's another issue.
Abusing personal data
Of course, it's rare to see instances of such abuses of private data become big stories, but that doesn't mean that organisations of all kinds aren't quietly abusing people's data privacy for their own ends.
Every time you sign up for an online service, you're essentially giving that company free reign over the personal details you leave behind - and, perhaps, much more.
This account had information about me, such as where I had worked and where I attend university, plus my profile photo from Facebook
Quora, the popular Q&A website, is a particular example. You may have come across many of its Facebook quizzes before and, perhaps, you've ended up clicking on one - just out of curiosity. But that's the end game: you go away and don't think about it again.
However, lots of people have been finding out that they somehow have Quora accounts that they're pretty sure they never signed up for.
One such person, Darcey, was left baffled when she received an email from Quora saying she had been followed by a close friend. Naturally, she clicked on to the link, only to learn that she had a full profile on the website. It had taken her Facebook profile picture and details and used them on the Quora website.
Yet she had never even heard of the site before. Could this be another example of unethical data privacy practice?
She told V3: "I opened my email to see an unexpected email from Quora, I opened it to be told that I had been ‘followed' by someone I knew. Having never heard of this site before, I was curious and so I clicked on the link which took me a ‘my' profile on Quora, which I had not set up myself.
"This account had information about me, such as where I had worked and where I attend university, plus my profile photo from Facebook. I was quite confused about how this could be allowed and angry that my information had been used to 'fake' an account in my name."
This isn't the first time that Quora has been accused of unethically using people's personal data. There are a scores of forum posts dedicated to people who have noticed that they, too, suddenly have a Quora account.
In one thread from February 2018, another shocked user wrote: "When did I sign up for Quora? I totally don't remember signing up for this stuff, but I have seen emails every week about friends following me. Why are they following me? I don't use this website."
In response to these questions, a forum poster explained that the account is probably linked to their Facebook account.
"My hypothesis would be that you were looking for something on the internet, you saw a link to a Quora answer and were asked to sign-in before viewing it.
"You clicked on the sign-in with Facebook' option, which has now linked your two accounts."
This is actually how Facebook started. Mark Zuckerberg hacked the university and took their student database, uploaded to the website and created fake profiles
In a different forum, someone suggested that Quora uses a special API that "can fetch user profile details from your existing accounts like Google, Facebook or other places".
But whatever the case, the fact still remains that Quora would appear to be setting up profiles for people - using facial photos and personal details - without even asking first.
That's until they begin to receive email notifications from the firm. One user called this practice 'unethical', writing: "If you can't tell your personal info is being used to establish your identity in a public way, then it's unethical.
"It would be great to have a forum actually give you an obvious choice to consent before spreading your personal identity around without permission."
Ricardo Seixas, head of digital at the Media Agency Group, explains that fake profiles have become common in the digital world - and the data you've carelessly left lying around is often used as the raw material.
He says: "I'm not aware of what Quora is doing lately - but this is actually how Facebook started. Mark Zuckerberg hacked the university and took their student database, uploaded to the website and created fake profiles.
"It's common practice in the industry. What matters for privacy? Nothing really because most likely they use publicly available information. This is the issue - people are not aware how all the inputs they give to the internet are used."
Quora wasn't the first and certainly won't be the last company to use people's personal data in this cavalier way. But such examples open up a number of questions about data privacy in general.
Will new regulations, such as GDPR, really make a difference, especially to a company based not far from the west coast of America or, indeed, goodness-knows where?
And while Quora's excuse might just be that it has been over-zealous in trying to make itself seen in a competitive marketplace, who knows what other uses are being made - and by whom - of the data we've all been publishing online?
In response to questions from V3, Quora sent us the following statement denying any improper practices.
"We only create Quora accounts for people who explicitly sign up for Quora. If a person selects Facebook as their Quora signup option, then they are prompted by Facebook for confirmation before they give Quora any of their information.
"We do not create accounts for a user's Facebook friends unless those friends explicitly sign up for Quora themselves."
The spokesperson, Jessica Shambora, added that the company provides a prompt "where people confirm the Facebook information they're sending us", and provided an image of the prompt screen.
She continued: "We collect this information in order to match questions and answers with people's interests and expertise. We are happy to answer more questions about this."
V3 asked Quora for comment, but hadn't received a response before our deadline
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