Over the last while I have had reason to ponder over the broad question of privacy, “Is privacy dead, or merely snoozing?“, and related topics such as power & control. In my latest blog post entitled “Imagine a world controlled by Facebook” I examined the impact of their latest privacy policies, their OpenGraph announcement which now allows all this varied personal information to be stored in a way that it can be easily exploited, and the potential impact of Facebook (or any single organization, for that matter) becoming the defacto social operating system for the Web. I was assuming that most people just didn’t appreciate the amount of information they may be sharing, the insight that can be subsequently derived from that information, such as your home address and personal schedule, and how that information might be exploited (marketers being the least of your worries).
However, perhaps this isn’t the case. Maybe people are consciously agreeing to share every intimite detail about their lives with perfect strangers when in most cases they’re not willing to share them with their closest friends and family. As bizarre as I may find this. Over the weekend I read a post from our friends at @mashable about a new company called Hearsay that is openly promising to Expose Everything You Read (totally unfiltered). In this case, the company is not hiding their intent but in fact presenting it as a great idea. Mmmmm… don’t leave any stone unturned, no iota of your personal life unexposed… I am personally not convinced that I want to be living in “The Truman Show” and would rather keep some things just for me. It reminds me of the totally hilarious Frank Caliendo Bush Impression where he talks about “inside words & outside words” [at 2:20 into the video].
So, what is it about the anonymity of the digital world that makes us feel so safe in sharing these details? Do we really appreciate the potential consequences of this openness? Maybe we have to stop blaming the Facebook’s of this world and start to take responsibility for our own lack of maturity when it comes to managing our safety in the digital world. We take it for granted that we lock our front doors at night, and yet leave the doors and windows of our digital homes open 7×24. So at the end of the day we have to ask ourselves “Who is giving these external organizations permission, directly or otherwise, to take our most intimite information and share it with the world?”.