Monday, January 11, 2010

The End of Privacy?

Somehow this concept is shocking to me -- "privacy is no longer a social norm."

Here's a British article about the guy who started Facebook.
The rise of social networking online means that people no longer have an expectation of privacy, according to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Talking at the Crunchie awards in San Francisco this weekend, the 25-year-old chief executive of the world's most popular social network said that privacy was no longer a "social norm".

"People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people," he said. "That social norm is just something that has evolved over time."

Zuckerberg said that the rise of social media reflected changing attitudes among ordinary people, adding that this radical change has happened in just a few years.

"When I got started in my dorm room at Harvard, the question a lot of people asked was, 'why would I want to put any information on the internet at all? Why would I want to have a website?'."

"Then in the last 5 or 6 years, blogging has taken off in a huge way, and just all these different services that have people sharing all this information." Privacy no longer a social norm, says Facebook founder

Over Christmas vacation I finally gave in and set up a Facebook account. The company says that there are 350,000,000 members, and half of those do something online each day. I don't post something every day but I do look to see what's new.

Waste of time, you say? Probably. Whatever, I'm going to give it a shot and see what the big deal is. So far I admit there is a certain kind of fascination with seeing comments and postings by people you thought you knew. I have put a couple of comments up, but I don't know why anybody'd be interested in my life!
Launched in 2004 as an exclusive network for Ivy League students, the site grew in part because allowed people to communicate privately – or at least among small groups of friends.

The constant tug of war between public and private information that ensued led to a series of embarrassing incidents where individuals published information online thinking it was private, only to have it reach the public.

These episodes are partly the result of the way people use Facebook, which has changed its service on several occasions in recent years. Each time the site brings more information into the public domain – and at each point it faces a series of protests and adverse reactions from users.

When we behave in public we are subject to scrutiny and judgment by the people around us, that's an important part of how a society works, norms can be enforced, penalties and rewards can be dealt. But if you are unique or creative at all, or if you are introspective or perhaps working on some ideas that would be pearls before swine in a public forum, you need to have privacy.

Privacy can be restricted to your own mind, it can mean that only you know what you're thinking, or the circumference of privacy can extend to certain others that you choose to include. Maintaining personal privacy is, I think, a serious and gigantic challenge in this age of video cameras and GPS. People need to be responsible for their own lives, they need to breathe, they need to make mistakes and try dumb things, they need to be able to show their love without being judged by people who don't care about them.

Of course you choose to join Facebook and you choose what you're going to do with it. There have been some times that the site has publicized information that people didn't want known -- well, I'm new to Facebook, I don't understand how some of it works, I don't think I'll be sending my innermost fantasies to all my "friends" out there, just yet.

Skipping down ...
Meanwhile, others have rejected the idea that younger people, in particular, are less concerned about privacy. Last month Microsoft researcher and social networking expert Danah Boyd told the Guardian that such assumptions often misunderstood the reasons that people put private information online.

"Kids have always cared about privacy, it's just that their notions of privacy look very different than adult notions," she said.

"As adults, by and large, we think of the home as a very private space … for young people it's not a private space. They have no control over who comes in and out of their room, or who comes in and out of their house. As a result, the online world feels more private because it feels like it has more control."

At least online you can choose your friends, though it seems like people connect to a lot of people they don't know that well. And I suppose that's part of the fun of it. An online friend who I know but don't actually socialize with has been posting baby pictures of her new grandchild, and it's kind of fun, and people I don't know comment on them and it is a nice thing. The politician talking about her new hair color, I know her but we don't talk about things like that when we see each other. It is good, though, to know that she has a life besides debating budgets and policies, it builds a personal connection that could be lost in the impersonal world of computers and mass media.

There is a kind of closeness that comes from seeing someone's more or less spontaneous comments on their life, it is definitely a permeation of the boundary between public and private presentation, and there is a warm and friendly feel to it -- I can see what people like about the Facebook world. But you can imagine that as our public selves become more personal and more similar to our private selves, we could see the extinction of the private self altogether. Think about it, you already know people like that, people who, when you get to know them personally, are exactly like they were when they were strangers. Some people have no private thoughts, no original ideas, their feelings are entirely publicly acceptable. Funny, the word that comes to mind when I think about the purely public self is fascism. I don't want to live in a world where people are exactly as they appear to be and social norms dictate their every thought, I enjoy everyone sharing their thoughts and feelings, their insights and worries, but I will always hope there is something hidden, something surprising about people. You don't have to tell me your secrets, but I sincerely hope you have some!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

you don't have to put anything on to have an account

you can use to see what others want to make public

it's fun

January 11, 2010 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama by the day is showing he's no left-wing crusader -- much to the disappointment of his base. Obama and the Democrats would be hurt in the coming midterm elections if ticked-off liberals feel less-than-enthused about the Obama presidency.

Much of the Democratic coalition has cause to be fretting about Obama these days.

What's the core of the Democratic Party? In days gone by, that answer was pretty easy to caricature: unions, enviros, peaceniks, pro-choice advocates, and African-Americans. And the first four of those groups have reason to feel a bit uneasy about Obama.

Unions. Labor leaders are livid that Obama is supporting a tax on high-priced, employer-sponsored health insurance policies.

Enviros. The final deal that Obama cut at the Copenhagen climate summit was a muddy one. During the Copenhagen conference, environmentalists, sensing that U.S. actions at the talks would fall short, issued a simple political demand: after Congress finishes health care, Obama must make the climate change bill pending in the Senate his next legislative priority. That doesn't seem likely.

Abortion rights. The Obama White House appears to be willing to accept restrictions on abortion in the health care bill that go beyond the usual limits applied to federal measures.

Afghanistan, 'nuf said. And disenchantment within the Democratic base regarding Obama's expansion of the Afghanistan war is likely to intensify in the months ahead, as the Obama surge hits the ground -- and there are more casualties.

As has been seen in the past, when liberals have been disillusioned, they generally stop voting.

Think Jimmy Carter.

January 11, 2010 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska has signed on as a contributor to the Fox News Channel.

The network confirmed that Ms. Palin would appear on the network’s programming on a regular basis as part of a multiyear deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Ms. Palin will not have her own regular program, one person with knowledge of the deal said, though she will host a series that will run on the network from time to time. This person would not elaborate, but the network does have a precedent for such a series. Oliver L. North is the host of an occasionally running documentary series on the military called “War Stories.”

Many suspected that when Ms. Palin retired as the governor of Alaska last summer she was doing so to pursue some sort of career in television. The Fox News deal, however, would not seem to be all-encompassing, and would appear to give her room for other pursuits, as well.

The deal was formally announced on Monday afternoon. Robert Barnett, Ms. Palin’s lawyer, did not respond to a call for comment. “I am thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at Fox News. It’s wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news,” Ms. Palin said in a statement.

January 11, 2010 5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barry continues to dazzle:

"(Jan. 12) -- As the one-year anniversary of his inauguration nears, President Barack Obama's job approval rating dropped to a new low of 46 percent, according to a CBS News poll.

A pair of sticky domestic issues -- health care and the economy -- contribute to Obama's low marks. The poll, conducted Jan. 6-10, finds only 36 percent of Americans support Obama's handling of health care reform."

Maybe he can go on TV after 2012, just like Sarah.

Hopefully, "The Biggest Loser" will still be on the air!

January 12, 2010 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Bose said...

Even Ratliff has done some fascinating writing about privacy in the age of social networking at Wired.

He's picked up on it by first covering people who have tried to disappear, and then being the subject of a contest in which he disappeared himself for 30 days, and a $5,000 reward was offered to anyone who could find him.

Turns out it's remarkably difficult to live under the radar.

January 12, 2010 1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Despite being hit especially hard by the bad economy, job losses and the high rate of foreclosures, African Americans' assessment of race relations and prospects for the future has surged more dramatically during the past two years than at any time in the past quarter-century, according to a new poll.

In a survey of American racial attitudes released Tuesday, researchers reported that the feeling of progress is driven in large part by the election of President Obama, along with a greater sense of local community satisfaction and a more positive outlook. The majority of African Americans say they are better off now than they were five years ago.

"These are dramatic findings," said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, which conducted the study. "We expected that there may be an Obama effect, and it was really quite dramatic -- which isn't to say that this era as measured in this survey means that all is fine between blacks and whites."

Large majorities of blacks continue to say that the country needs to make more changes and that the problems rooted in the country's history of slavery and segregation haven't disappeared. But there are many indications that African Americans feel there has been significant advancement.

Thirty-nine percent of blacks -- nearly twice as many as in 2007 -- say that the "situation of black people in this country" is better than it was five years earlier. That view holds among blacks of all age groups and income levels. Similarly, 56 percent of blacks and nearly two-thirds of whites say the standard-of-living gap between whites and blacks has narrowed in the past decade. Still, when asked about the problems facing black families, a majority said there were not enough jobs and there were too many problems with drugs and alcoholism, crime and poor public education.

The 112-page report is based on a telephone survey conducted in November among a nationally representative sample of 2,884 adults, including 812 African Americans..."

January 12, 2010 5:51 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home