This week, we spotlight a remarkable woman who is no stranger to Virginia Tech marketing students: Professor Donna Wertalik. You may know her through your studies in Marketing Management and Careers in Marketing, or your involvement in student organizations such as the Junior Marketing Advisory Board and PRISM. No matter how you know her, you know that she is an incredibly dynamic and insightful individual. And that she loves marketing. Today, we are here to talk about Professor Wertalik’s work in the online privacy space through her current passion project, Voices Of Privacy: how it began, how it informs, and how it empowers.

What Inspired you to begin Voices of Privacy? 

In July, Professor Wertalik and her colleague France Bélanger went on The Cyber Ways podcast to discuss Voices of Privacy. France outlined their inspiration to begin VOP by explaining, “The whole idea of Voices of Privacy came from lots of research for many years. We've been studying what people know about information privacy, and why people share so much [about] what's going on. One of those key sentences you often hear ‘privacy is dead’ is something that we don't accept... What about your mother, your brother, your children? What do they know and how can they control how much information is shared about them or what they do online? The whole idea of Voices of Privacy is: let's find a way to tell everybody about what they can do, tell them why it's important, and do this in a way that is easy to understand. We are hoping that everybody in the audience who's going to go and check some of our videos gets the feeling that the explanations are easy, clear, and helpful. That's the goal. Let's make sure everybody can make an informed decision…you can't just say I'm going to live in the offline world only. Let's make decisions about what we share, with whom, when, and understand why.”

What is the most shocking fact you have learned about internet privacy, or lack thereof, since beginning Voices Of Privacy?

Wertalik: “Hackers have gotten really good at what they do. They know the company's scripts. They sound like Apple and sound like Microsoft. There are imposters who impersonate other people on Linkedin to verify themselves. They bring those people’s pictures up to say 'I am a Senior Software Engineer with Microsoft. Look! Here’s my picture!' Between that and AI, hackers have gotten into worlds that no consumer is ready for.”

What is the first change everyone should make in their current approach to internet privacy today?

Wertalik: “Take one small step every single day. Go on one platform: Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok, and look at your settings. Are you public? Are you private? Why are you getting certain ads? Start with one. Go over to and look at our how-to videos to see it broken down very easily. Start to manage your settings and empower yourself.”

Tune in to Voices of Privacy live on WDBJ7 this Thursday to view VOP’s monthly segment, and empower yourself by taking control of your online privacy in real-time. Click the VOP linktree to get educated and stay updated through their Privacy Talks, Webisodes, and How-To videos.