Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Your privacy on everybody's internet

Pic courtesy Webwombat

I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next person. I have a theory that I love them more, in fact. No more fertile compost heap than the privacy-on-the-net canard. (Oh my what a horrible set of metaphor bookends. I'll let them stand, as a warning to aspiring writers.)

Anyway. Privacy. I'll give you the science in three words: there is none.

A very good overview of many of the issues involved in social media here from Damien Mulley.

And here ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick takes Facebook's volte face on privacy to task and essentially tears them a second arse. A small snippet:
First the company kept user data siloed inside its site alone, saying that a high degree of user privacy would make users comfortable enough to share more information with a smaller number of trusted people.
Now that it has 350 million people signed up and connected to their friends and family in a way they never have been before - now Facebook decides that the initial, privacy-centric, contract with users is out of date. That users actually want to share openly, with the world at large, and incidentally (as Facebook's Director of Public Policy Barry Schnitt told us in December) that it's time for increased pageviews and advertising revenue, too.

From schoolkids on Facebook to idiot college kids on dormporn sites to celebs on Twitter and on and on and on, the message is the same. There is NO privacy on the web. If you put stuff up there anywhere (and often if you don't) it is findable and will be disseminated. 99% of the time this will be as harmful as dropping your DNA in the bin on a Big Mac box, and if you're ok with that I'm ok with it too. But privacy has undergone seismic redefinition. Most people are unaware of how exposed they are. Internet giants will do what they can to protect the interests of consumers. Right after they've done what's right for them first.

Thanks to Niall Austin for highlighting the RWW article.

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