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The Privacy Paradox

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the don't-ask-and-we-won't-care dept.

Privacy 146

Dekortage writes "The NYTimes has a piece up about the paradox of privacy: 'Normally sane people have inconsistent and contradictory impulses and opinions when it comes to their safeguarding their own private information.' More specifically, it's all how you ask: if you don't talk about privacy, people won't worry about it. In one survey, 'When the issue of confidentiality was raised, participants clammed up. For example, 25 percent of the students who were given a strong assurance of confidentiality admitted to having copied someone else's homework. Among those given no assurance of confidentiality, more than half admitted to it.'"

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Hmm (4, Interesting)

neokushan (932374) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058089)

From that little extract in the summary about students, is that proof of people not caring about privacy unless someone mentions it, or proof that students these days are a bit thick and don't really think ahead or about what they're saying?

(NOTE: I'm actually a student myself and I'm inclined to believe the latter).

Re:Hmm (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24058221)

It's proof that people are more cautious when someone makes an effort to appear harmless. There's a gamut of normal behavior, and telling people that you're not going to stab them in the back with the information you're requesting isn't in that gamut. This study says nothing about privacy.

Re:Hmm (4, Insightful)

Syrente (990349) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058373)

Indeed, if they had to go out of their way to assure students it was confidential then it would give the students the opportunity to wonder why they'd need to assure them... was it a survey by their school for instance?

Besides, I can't think of any students who don't clam up when the thought of potentially getting into trouble is raised. It's like handing a kid an armed bomb and swearing you won't detonate it, if you ask me... would you blame them being nervous?

Verb-Space (5, Interesting)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058513)

There was a study or two a little while ago that mentioned that the mind has trouble with negative constructions over time.

"Your data is safe with me. That's right, I am not going to *broadcast your data all over the internet where all the world can see it, reverse engineer your life, and tag it in the southeastern dialect of Klingon attached to a mashup of Steve Ballmer and Jack Thompson. Nosirree, I promise to take good care of you and not *rip your life to shreds and offer your data as bait to the CIA, or Viacom."

The mind melts and forgets it is in "reversal mode", and becomes exhausted from the scare words.

Re: Verb-Space (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058707)

I'm sure that has the effect that you describe, but there is something else that most people suffer from: Mind over matter syndrome. If you don't have a mind, it doesn't matter. Seriously, when something is too complex for people to think about, they tend to not do so. Computer and ID security are complex things in this world, and most people don't want to live in a life where they can NOT trust anyone.

The simple truth is you can NOT trust anyone when it comes to safeguarding your personal information. The need to be constantly on guard drains us normally so it is easier to not worry about it than to fight the good fight. I believe that this is the effect that terrorists are after.

People just are not wired to be security conscious all the time. Ever notice how a lot of people only worry about backups for a short while after suffering catastrophic loss? if at all?

Security is expensive in many ways. Too expensive for most people's day to day resources. The effect is not driven only by negative input, but by the drain caused by constant watchfulness over things they don't understand fully, if at all.

Re: Verb-Space (4, Insightful)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058851)

This is why using the word NOT is counter-productive. When communicating anything you should use the positive form of what ever declaration you are trying to say. Especially with children and young adults. It's also important when thinking to yourself.

Instead of saying "Don't run" you need to say "Stop. Please walk slowly" Since what they hear in the first case may be "Blah't RUN!"

or

instead of "Don't play around with knives"

say: "Playing with knives is dangerous and you will get in trouble"

cause all they'll hear is a suggestion to "Play around with knives"

Don't think of an elephant! (2, Interesting)

fang2415 (987165) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059057)

You're absolutely right about this. It's the "don't think of an elephant" argument (which I learned about from a book of the same name by cognitive linguist George Lakoff).

Negative constructions reinforce the positive mental frame that contains them. When Nixon said "I am not a crook", he guaranteed that everyone would think of him as a crook. Saying "we will not violate your privacy" makes people think that you might violate their privacy.

Re: Verb-Space (2, Insightful)

tyrione (134248) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059409)

This is why using the word NOT is counter-productive. When communicating anything you should use the positive form of what ever declaration you are trying to say. Especially with children and young adults. It's also important when thinking to yourself.

Instead of saying "Don't run" you need to say "Stop. Please walk slowly" Since what they hear in the first case may be "Blah't RUN!"

or

instead of "Don't play around with knives"

say: "Playing with knives is dangerous and you will get in trouble"

cause all they'll hear is a suggestion to "Play around with knives"

Because let's face it, young children and young adults are the same, right? Or the simple fact that we treat young adults as children and children as infants we produce drones too afraid to learn a language and its useage for positive, negative and neutral connotations.

We program them to think as inferior, flawed creatures. It's really only until one has been shown it's not the language we need to police in order to predict more "suitable" outcomes, it's a greater exposure to human actions, at the earliest age where we can later become more well-informed of all sides to see for what they are, through their actions and how that matches their words that matters. It's as if the "elders" fear little elders and therefore create barriers to entry by proclaiming to protect one's innocence that creates this duality of Trust and Fear.

If Knowledge is Power, then Truth is Wisdom by the foresight of Action to Word and Word's verification through resulting Actions.

Re: Verb-Space (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24059967)

what was that that mother always used to say?

Don't put salt in your eye.
Don't put salt in your eye.
Salt in your eye.
Put Salt in your eye.

Re: Verb-Space (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24061069)

Test this yourself at the local fast food drive-through. Say "Without mustard, pickles and onions" and see just how often they hear "with." Instead say "No."

There's an art to ordering where less is definitely more.

Re: Verb-Space (3, Funny)

ChuckSchwab (813568) | more than 6 years ago | (#24061197)

As someone who's spent a lot of time denying the holocaust, I have to say that this rings true. So I'll probably switch to saying things like, "Jews were kept safe in Germany during the second world war."

Re: Verb-Space (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#24060881)

There was a study or two a little while ago that mentioned that the mind has trouble with negative constructions over time.

"Your data is safe with me. That's right, I am not going to *broadcast your data all over the internet where all the world can see it, reverse engineer your life, and tag it in the southeastern dialect of Klingon attached to a mashup of Steve Ballmer and Jack Thompson. Nosirree, I promise to take good care of you and not *rip your life to shreds and offer your data as bait to the CIA, or Viacom."

The mind melts and forgets it is in "reversal mode", and becomes exhausted from the scare words.

It might also be that the person wasn't aware that someone could do all that with your data, until you said it.

Re:Hmm (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059645)

More specifically by emphasising privacy and confidentiality you are implying that the information will be recorded over the long term and used. When it is just given as an arbitrary question, people feel they can simply deny the truthfulness of the response and, claim they were just joking as the survey was of no great import as implied by the questioning method.

For a more realistic response, don't just ask about cheating generically but about specific recent events and requesting details where the response could have real consequences.

Re:Hmm (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 6 years ago | (#24060797)

I think you're getting close.

The point is that people talk about what's on their mind. (If it wasn't, how could they possibly talk about it?) If you go to somebody and say "I'm not going to NNN you if you talk to me" then there's the clear understanding that you are, in fact, thinking about NNN me. Which introduces a greater likelyhood that you WOULD NNN me, since if you weren't thinking about it at all, you simply wouldn't.

On the other hand, if I come up to you to talk to you, and you ask "Are you going to NNN me?", then it's YOU that's thinking about NNN, and that makes my subsequent assurances much more palatable.

An alternative interpretation of the context (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24061041)

An alternative impression occurs to me. If someone were to give me the whole disclaimer about what they would and wouldn't do, my impression of that person - or institution - would be 'this person is very proper/uptight', and it would inhibit me from admitting my less than proper conduct and thereby laying myself open to their criticism.

Re:Hmm (1)

Swizec (978239) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058333)

Why wouldn't a student admit to having copied homework? These days it's so obviously known that people copy each other's work it's becoming a bit ridiculous. Hell, I'm a student and we have a public board set up for the whole college where most of what goes on is "helping" each other with homework ... the professors know about this, some even partake in the discussions, but we don't know who they are and neither do they so it might just be that people copy homework from their professors.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24058395)

Hell, I'm a student and we have a public board set up for the whole college where most of what goes on is "helping" each other with homework ... the professors know about this, some even partake in the discussions, but we don't know who they are and neither do they so it might just be that people copy homework from their professors.

(Emphasis mine.)

This neatly sums up the level of logic taught at schools today.

Re:Hmm (1)

Swizec (978239) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058463)

RTFA man, the identification of the students in the survey was at the same level as there is on a public forum.

The scientists conducted several surveys of college students, asking them to provide an e-mail address and then indicate whether they had ever engaged in a list of wayward, or in some cases illegal, activities.

Emphasis mine.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24058859)

You still didn't catch that "but we don't know who they are and neither do they" implies calling the professors non-sentient? Ok, baby spoon time then, I guess: If they don't know who they are, that includes and implies not knowing who they themselves are.

If you mean "neither do they know the other professors", then write that. Else you disclose that you're bad at English, logic or both, i.e. a typical American student.

Re:Hmm (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059575)

Congratulations, you can willfully misread another persons statement by latching onto any grammatical vagueness. Have a fucking cookie.

GP didn't use any improper wording, you're just being an idiot.

Re:Hmm (5, Insightful)

Zemran (3101) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058583)

(NOTE: I'm actually a student myself and I'm inclined to believe the latter).
I am a teacher and I am certain of the latter...

Proof that people who copy homework are stupid (2, Funny)

evilandi (2800) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058611)

Quite.

The survey simply proves that, people who copy others' homework, find it difficult to follow a chain of logic. I'm fairly sure we all knew that before the survey.

To summarise: "Stupid is as stupid does"

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24059111)

is that proof of people not caring about privacy unless someone mentions it, or proof that students these days are a bit thick and don't really think ahead or about what they're saying?

Six of one, half dozen of the other. You're saying the same thing in both cases. People care about privacy but don't think about it unless someone mentions it.

Re:Hmm (1)

Shark (78448) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059489)

I think that has a lot to do with the perceived triviality of the question. I'm not sure how many would have, for example, admitted to wearing their mother's underwear (completely wacky example) without assurance of privacy.

Which brings the other point that stuff that people actually care to keep private is not *common* or trivial.

It might be more accurate to see how many would actually list *which* homework they copied without assurance of privacy.

It's because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24058093)

People just naturally want to stir up shit!

Same as with any chore (4, Interesting)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058103)

Talk to people about dieting or brushing teeth and they might do it in immediate future. Privacy is a chore that can cause quite a bit of inconvenience. Damage from it being breeched only happens rarely and takes a lot of time to manifest itself.

Re:Same as with any chore (3, Insightful)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058901)

Privacy is not a chore. Privacy is property. Protecting said property is a chore, you need to actively protect it. In a perfect world, people would respect your property (privacy) and leave it alone. In the real world, that doesn't happen of course. People aren't as moral as they always claim to be.

conscience (1)

Anderlan (17286) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058139)

this means that if your conscience compels you to mention confidentiality, you're probably up to no good, so i should watch out. of course, this doesn't help against those with no conscience.

Trust me (5, Insightful)

joss (1346) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058145)

There's no paradox at all. If you ask a girl out on a date she might say yes. Promising that you are not going to cut her up into little pieces and eat her raw over the next 2 weeks does not improve your chances. People are rightly suspicious when they hear someone state explicitly that they are not planning on doing something evil. Economists are always coming out with nonsense like this.

Re:Trust me (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058203)

Oh how I wish I had some spare mod points for you. Where is the "+2 - Insightful and very Funny" option.

Re:Trust me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24058423)

I was thinking the exact same thing. However, it is almost unbelievable the researchers did not consider this. Isn't it? I am glad this has not been peer reviewed yet.

Re:Trust me (4, Funny)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058293)

People are rightly suspicious when they hear someone state explicitly that they are not planning on doing something evil.

So it was a really dumb idea for a certain company to make their motto "do no evil" ...

It also begs the question* about doctors and "first, do no harm."

*(no, I'm not interested in little grammar hitlers starting a war over "begs the question". Put it in an ask slashdot - or better yet, get a life.)

Re:Trust me (3, Funny)

Swizec (978239) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058349)

*(no, I'm not interested in little grammar hitlers starting a war over "begs the question". Put it in an ask slashdot - or better yet, get a life.)

What about the big grammar hitlers, can they help you out?

Re:Trust me (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24058361)

(no, I'm not interested in little grammar hitlers starting a war over "begs the question". Put it in an ask slashdot - or better yet, get a life.)

You know, begging the question doesn't mean what you think that it means.

Re:Trust me (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058619)

Indeed. Nowadays it doesn't mean anything at all.

Re:Trust me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24058375)

If you think you know what 'begging the question' means, why would you purposely use it incorrectly?

Trolling (0)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058453)

If you think you know what 'begging the question' means, why would you purposely use it incorrectly?

Indeed. Not only does he purposely use it incorrectly, but then he purposely calls attention to it.
It's not as if "this prompts the question" would have been harder to understand.

The easiest conclusion is that the GP is trolling, and should be modded accordingly.

Re:Trolling (5, Insightful)

catxk (1086945) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059001)

Incorrect. GP is making a good point and staying very much on topic doing so:

He uses the term incorrectly, but since most people would understand what he means, normally they would let it pass without notice. However, since he points out that he is not interested in responders mentioning the incorrectness, responders will instantly point it out. This relates to TFA (I'm not sure he realized it himself).

Re:Trolling (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059433)

And how, exactly, does this improve on correctly using "prompt the question"?

Re:Trolling (2, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#24060391)

And how, exactly, does this improve on correctly using "prompt the question"?

I don't understand what "prompt the question" means. The first thing that comes to my mind is:

C:\>The question

Maybe I need to get out more often, sorry.

Re:Trolling (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059999)

Maybe it's a good idea after all, because "begs" is a stronger qualifier than merely "prompts" or "raises". I'd rather say "begs the question", than: "*really* prompts the question".

It's also the simplest translation of the phrase. In that sense, it's somewhat a Good Thing that it's been popularized in this way.

I can't understand why people who prefer the original meaning can't at least see the advantages of switching it to the new more intuitive meaning. Language changes all the time, sometimes for the better, and I think this qualifies.

Re:Trust me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24058863)

Saying "first do no harm" begs the question "would you do harm unless told otherwise".

Ironic that a post dismissing the correct use of begging the question should contain a valid example.

Re:Trust me (3, Insightful)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059051)

That's the beauty of language. And, as to the point you indirectly point out, for a long time doctors DID do more harm than good. Look at the practice of "bleeding" people to "remove the evil humours". This required the trust of people, affirmed with the "We're going to help you."

Sort of like "Give us your information. After all, you have nothing to worry about if you have nothing to hide ..." Saying "you have nothing to worry about" when you're already in a very worrisome situation?

A friend of mine said he always knew when someone was out to f*ck him - they'd say "Trust me." When you think about it, it makes sense. If I already trust you, you won't have to tell me "Trust me." And if I don't saying those words isn't some magic sauce that will suddenly make me trust you.

"Trust me!" == "I probably think you're stupid and I'm going to fuck you over."

Re:Trust me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24060571)

Except in the case of loved ones/close friends when the "trust me" is more a remind of who it is that you are asking them to trust. Then "trust me" = "go along with what whatever it is i am doing because you already know ME and already trust ME and already know I wouldn't do you wrong."

Idiots... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24059023)

You've demonstrated the point without even noticing. In other words, you were trolled but not how you might think: he *explicitly* stated it, so you replied.

Well trolled, sir.

Re:Trust me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24059175)

*(no, I'm not interested in little grammar hitlers starting a war over "begs the question". Put it in an ask slashdot - or better yet, get a life.)

That leaves us logicians free to pester you...! The phrase is 'Raises the question', you peon! Begging the question is the name of a logical fallacy!

There's no escape, we're all around! Ah ha ha ha... HA HA HA HA! AHAHAHA AHAHAHAHAH HA HA HAAA!!!

Re:Trust me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24059537)

Got one, thanks - and unlike yours, mine has no place for the exaltation of ignorance.

Fine, you asked for it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24059795)

To be real pedantic, it's not "do no evil", it's "don't BE evil".

Re:Trust me (1)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058295)

There's no paradox at all. If you ask a girl out on a date she might say yes. Promising that you are not going to cut her up into little pieces and eat her raw over the next 2 weeks does not improve your chances. People are rightly suspicious when they hear someone state explicitly that they are not planning on doing something evil. Economists are always coming out with nonsense like this.

It's still important research, and I think it's counter-intuitive that the more you talk about safegurading people's data the more nervous they get about revealing it. When we try to recruit people for observational medical studies we send the potential particpants ever increasing details of the safeguards we are going to use to protect their data. At the same time particpation rates are dropping, and a natural response has been to try and make people feel even more secure about our use of their data. Maybe this research suggests we're making it worse.

Re:Trust me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24058437)

So... shall we trust Google ?

Re:Trust me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24058545)

2 weeks is much too long.

Re:Trust me (1)

everynerd (1252610) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058559)

Our chances with the girl may not improve, but adding a little suspicion to the courtship makes us ravenous killer types quite excited!

Re:Trust me (1)

Snocone (158524) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058595)

Yep; just as whenever somebody says "Trust me!" or "This is the truth!" or "I'm not lying!" you know beyond any reasonable doubt that they are indeed attempting to deceive you.

Re:Trust me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24059105)

Every time Gilbert Gottfried says "No, I know this one" he's lying.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozEIsWWngJo [youtube.com]

Re:Trust me (2)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058991)

If you ask a girl out on a date she might say yes. Promising that you are not going to cut her up into little pieces and eat her raw over the next 2 weeks does not improve your chances

No, but promising that you are going to cut her up into little pieces and eat her raw over the next 2 weeks doesn't help either.

It makes you wonder how anyone ever gets a date at all.

Re:Trust me (1)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 6 years ago | (#24060049)

"I'm from the Government and I'm here to help you."
"The check is in the mail."
"No, that dress does not make you look fat."

I'm sure the "there will be absolutely no repercussions" assurances garnered about the same level of trust in these students as the statements above do in adults.

Re:Trust me (4, Funny)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#24060069)

If you ask a girl out on a date she might say yes.

You seem to have forgotten to which website you're posting.

Re:Trust me (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#24060929)

There's no paradox at all.... People are rightly suspicious when they hear someone state explicitly that they are not planning on doing something evil.

I guess it depends on what you consider the word "paradox" to mean. The idea that telling someone you won't do something evil will convince them that you're planning something evil sounds a bit paradoxical to me. How do you, then, convince someone with words that your intentions are good?

Of course, here comes everyone out of the woodwork to tell me that I'm wrong about what a paradox is. I know, it's almost as much fun as arguing about whether something is "ironic".

I don't understand why you object to surveillance. (5, Funny)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058147)

Surely if you've done nothing wrong, then you've got nothing to hide.

Re:I don't understand why you object to surveillan (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24058335)

No government, king, or dictator should be allowed to spy on American citizens in the US.

If you want to be spied on then go back to England, otherwise enjoy your stay in the LAND OF THE FREE!

Land of the wiretapped, more like. (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058649)

After the reunification of Germany, the story came out that there was a single room in the Stasi headquarters that could tap any phone in the country.

I was absolutely appalled to hear about that, and really felt for the terror that the citizens of East Germany had to face under Communism: say the wrong thing on the phone, and the heavy bootheels of the state police might come kicking down your door, to drag you away to a dungeon, work camp or firing squad.

Absolutely appalled, indeed.

Well, we've got that now, in the US: the entire US telcom system can be tapped from a single location, and not just that, by remote control!

And not just phone conversations: Internet traffic and financial transactions as well.

Get ready to send some heavy bootheels my way: George W. Bush is a war criminal. My greatest hope is that he shall be tried for his crimes by the next administration - or turned over to the UN Tribunal in The Hague - and that he be imprisoned for the rest of his days for what he has done, not only to his country, but to so many innocent people all around the world.

How many Iraqis had to die, or be horribly maimed, so we could take control of their oil? It was never about terrorism; if it ever had been, the military would have focussed on Afghanistan, the Taliban and bin Laden. By not having done so, the Taliban has become resurgent.

Yo! Homeland Security, lissen up: when you subpoena Slashdot's logs, I have Stephouse IDSL and live in Sunnyvale, California.

Cowering in fear, -- Mike

Re:Land of the wiretapped, more like. (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 6 years ago | (#24060005)

It was not about the oil; it was about preventing the switch to the PetrolEuro. Which it succeeded to do. It was also about squashing some groups in Afghanistan; which it did. Bin Laden however is still free (if he's alive). And it has cost an awful amount of money. But at the same time it saved your economy from tanking, at least for a little while.
All in all I'd say the war has had mixed results.

Re:I don't understand why you object to surveillan (1)

Pictish Prince (988570) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059203)

No government, king, or dictator should be allowed to spy on American citizens in the US.

If you want to be spied on then go back to England, otherwise enjoy your stay in the LAND OF THE FREE!

You want fries with that?

Re:I don't understand why you object to surveillan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24059155)

Either:

a) your a troll
b) you didn't read the recent thread on this site discussing the "nothing to hide" argument [slashdot.org]

I'll Take Door Number A. (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059875)

You know, micro-chipping your kids can help get them home safely if they're ever lost or, God forbid, kidnaped.

Paranoia (1)

Gewalt (1200451) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058149)

Most people don't remember to be paranoid. Give them a reminder that they should be , and *BAMMO* they shut up. Cops have known about this forever.

Re:Paranoia (4, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059361)

I think we're pre-programmed to trust and assist everyone in our tribe by default, and distrust anyone not of our tribe. The problem is that this doesn't work well anymore, since we don't know everyone in our tribe. It's likely quite useful when you hunt wildebeest, but not as useful when you work for a hospital, protecting patient records.

Most of us don't think of trust at all, but assign perceived trustworthiness automatically, and only by being reminded of trust do we pay it any thought.

Social engineering takes advantage of this. You get the victim to draw the conclusion (without being told -- it has to be subconscious) that you belong to the same work tribe as them, and thus trust becomes implicit.

Some warning signs that you may be subjected to social engineering:
- The person starts using your first name without you having ever met.
- The person refers to an authority figure in a jocular/friendly way, in order to make you draw the conclusion that the authority figure knows and trusts this person.
- They will try to appeal to your vanity. E.g. they may imply that they called YOU because you're so friendly and helpful. Ask yourself whether, if it really was this urgent, they would be calling you instead of those whose job it is to deal with this sort of situation. If you believe for one second that it's because of your demeanor, you're not only stupid but vain too.
- They mention a common foe. "You know how accounting is..." Yeah, everyone knows that accounting are bastards to anyone not in accounting, in every company in every country. That doesn't lend credence to you being on the same side.
- They mention an interest of yours. "I had planned to take my son fishing this weekend, but I guess I'll be working, trying to fix this". Why would they tell that to a stranger? (Especially if you have a sticker saying "BITE MY BASS" on your car.)
- If face to face, the person smiles a lot. Nothing disarms suspicion as easily as a smile.

And yeah, cops learn this, and with time become pretty good at it too.

My main advice is to never trust a person who smiles. Ever. That invariably means they want something. Yes, this includes loved ones too; what they want might be something you're willing to give, but they're still unconsciously trying to lower your defense by smiling. A smile is always a mechanism to disarm the one who sees it.

Re:Paranoia (3, Funny)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059659)

You must be really fun to hang out with.

in this case correlation is causation (4, Insightful)

dash2 (155223) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058193)

... so the correlationisnotcausation tag is misleading. I assume they ran an experiment and randomly assigned half the students to the "mention confidentiality" treatment, half to the control. So there's no way (except an extraordinary fluke) for anything but the treatment to explain the big difference in honesty.

Re:in this case correlation is causation (4, Insightful)

fintux (798480) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058697)

Exactly! People here on slashdot seem to have the habit that if they see anything related to a study, they always use the "correlationisnotcausation" tag. Yes, it is good to remember that they are not synonymous things, but in a controlled environment, it quite often is the case. Otherwise, there would be no point in doing any studies about anything.

Amen to that. (1)

Xocet_00 (635069) | more than 6 years ago | (#24060469)

We try to promote skepticism and it's a good thing that we do. Teaching people to question the things that they are told is good. However, there is a relatively small minority of Slashdot readers who have missed the point.

Scientific skepticism is about making sure you understand the details of how a conclusion was reached. You look for holes in the method. You look for faulty assumptions. What scientific skepticism is not is the practice of simply not believing anything at all.

silly (1)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058287)

We all cherish our privacy. Then we go and divulge everything about ourselves on Facebook, sprinkle our Social Security number like pixie dust across the Web and happily load up on tracking devices like GPS navigators and cellphones.

I do have a Facebook page, I do submit my social security card on-line, and I do use a GPS navigator and cell phone. I have a good idea who gets each of those items of data and why, and I have a good idea of the risks and implications.

I'm sorry the researchers don't understand the privacy implications of these different uses of private information, but the stupidity is theirs, not mine.

Their findings: Our privacy principles are wobbly. We are more or less likely to open up depending on who is asking, how they ask and in what context.

There's nothing "wobbly" about that, that's the way privacy is supposed to work, and it's the way it has worked for, oh, many millennia.

Re:silly (1)

CaseyB (1105) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058321)

Who gets data resulting from your use of a GPS navigator?

Re:silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24058499)

Depending on the type of navigator: He himself, his map service provider, his traffic information provider.

Re:silly (1)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058435)

Who do they resell their data to?

What has access to their system? Is every single tech person they employ trustworthy?

Is their security good enough?

Who is middle man to your TCP transmitions?

Do you trust your ISP?

Do you login outside your PC? Can you trust those computers?

Who else has access to your PC? Who can hack your PC?

Re:silly (3, Insightful)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058623)

Who do they resell their data to?

I don't know and it doesn't affect my privacy.

What has access to their system? Is every single tech person they employ trustworthy?

I don't know and it doesn't affect my privacy.

Is their security good enough?

Yes, in the sense that even no security on their end would be "good enough".

Who is middle man to your TCP transmitions?

I assume my ISP and maybe the NSA.

Do you trust your ISP?

No.

Do you login outside your PC? Can you trust those computers?

I don't have to trust them. When I do use another computer, I use an OTP.

Who else has access to your PC? Who can hack your PC?

Doesn't matter; they can't do anything with it.

Basically, you're asking all the wrong questions. If you have to rely on your ISP to be trustworthy or your computer not getting stolen, you have already lost.

Out of sight, Out of Mind (3, Insightful)

Catalina588 (1151475) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058353)

Rule #1 -- everything you do on the Internet is discoverable.

Most people forget that rule most of the time, to their eventual detriment. On July 3rd, a judge ordered Google to hand over log records containing user-identifiable data on every YouTube video ever downloaded. Did you ever think your YouTube habits would become publicly available? Read Rule #1 above. 'Nuf said.

Re:Out of sight, Out of Mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24058473)

the only rules I seem to remember are the thirty-third and thirty-fourth rules after rule number 1.

as far as the google logs, the only proof viacom can pull from the records is how successful rick-rolling really is.

Re:Out of sight, Out of Mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24059251)

Pfft. You have the wrong list of rules. The first rule is don't talk about /b/. The second rule is don't talk about /b/.

Rules of the Internet [encycloped...matica.com]

Surprising? (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058371)

Is anyone terribly surprised? How we answer questions depends on how the question is asked. Specifically, we try to read social cues as to how the information will be received. Ask someone a personal question in a context that makes them think their answer will garner praise, and they'll answer much more readily than in a situation where it's implied the answer will lead people to condemn them.

I remember in college a bunch of people were taking purity tests, and one girl took the test and scored on the relatively pure end of the spectrum, and seemed proud of that. When everyone was much more impressed with people who scored incredibly impure, she took the test again and managed to get a much different score.

two fears compounded? (2, Interesting)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058381)

If not given the assurance people think only about the bad outcome caused by their confession, when given the assurance they actually compound two fears, the fear of bad outcome and the fear of having the promise broken.

I like someone who knows how a pessimist thinks (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058525)

If not given the assurance people think only about the bad outcome caused by their confession, when given the assurance they actually compound two fears, the fear of bad outcome and the fear of having the promise broken.

BINGO!

Telephone privacy (2, Interesting)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058401)

At least in Italy, for the sake of privacy, you cannot know from your telco the exact phone numbers that have been dialed from YOUR own phone.

Re:Telephone privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24058997)

And this has WHAT to do with privacy concerns changing depending on whether you've been reminded of privacy or not?

Re:Telephone privacy (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059907)

This means the the concept of privacy itself is fuzzy, as well as any related concern!

I never copied homework (3, Funny)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058431)

Why bother if you can just copy the test itself?

Sample size (1)

Alphasite (1261864) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058541)

As ever, I'd like to know the scope of the survey cause if the sample where something like 1000 students for one survey and 1000 for the other then maybe the fist 1000 copied far less than the latter.

Statistics is just about distribution and probability not about well known facts and extrapolating conclusions from an insufficiently wide sample can lead to terribly wrong conclusions.

Re:Sample size (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059259)

As ever, I'd like to know the scope of the survey cause if the sample where something like 1000 students for one survey and 1000 for the other then maybe the fist 1000 copied far less than the latter.

Statistics is just about distribution and probability not about well known facts and extrapolating conclusions from an insufficiently wide sample can lead to terribly wrong conclusions.

The mean absolute deviation for a sample size of 1000 on a boolean question is roughly 2.5%. I don't know how many samples it would take for the mean absolute deviation to be in the vicinity of 25% but it's safe to assume that it would be such a ridiculously small sample size that it's safe to assume that this poll would be based on more than that (TFA doesn't say how many). So your point is quite moot.

Re:Sample size (1)

Alphasite (1261864) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059887)

That would be in the case of an absolutely aleatory sample which must or must not be the case.

Statistics doesn't work as well with cultural related factors, meaning two different schools can have absolute deviation far overweight than an aleatory sample will.

I'm not dismissing the survey, I'm just saying I tend to mistrust the ones that doesn't specify anything about the sample.

Re:Sample size (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24060001)

Oh, true, I missed the fact that it was results from two independent and unrelated sites. Therefore we indeed do have to take TFA's conclusions with a pinch of salt. However the conclusion is intuitive enough to be assumed to be correct, if not rigorously proven.

People are accustomed to bait-and-switch language (5, Insightful)

ActusReus (1162583) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058555)

We live in a world today where pretty much anything that a government or a private entity tells you is more or less the opposite of reality.

People are accustomed to seeing legislation such as the "Defense of Marriage Act", which attacks and limits people's right to marry... the "Patriot Act", which exploits patriotism toward ends which no patriot could support... etc. How many Congressional bills DON'T have a name that is 180-degrees opposite from the bill's contents?

People are accustomed to private sector speech meaning its exact opposite as well. You never see a food company describe its product as "gourmet" unless it isn't. "Employee Rights" policies are generally about limiting employee rights. More relevant here, anyone who has even glanced at a "Privacy Policy" from their bank or other business institution knows that it really deals with how little privacy you have, and the hoops they make you jump through even to protect that.

Where's the "paradox" here? We have grown accustomed to any language about our "rights" actually being a bait-and-switch. So, yes... when we hear assurances that our privacy is safeguarded, we assume that you wouldn't even have brought it up unless it wasn't.

Re:People are accustomed to bait-and-switch langua (2, Interesting)

abirdman (557790) | more than 6 years ago | (#24060921)

People are accustomed to private sector speech meaning its exact opposite

You're absolutely right about this (I tried to mod you up, but my points had timed out). Watch any advertisement on TV and while the voice over is promising one thing, the 6 point type scrolling at the bottom is "clarifying" and negating the points-- or, in the words of Tom Waits, "the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away." I've noticed even my children no longer trust the words "cheap," and worse, "free," and assume any ad using those words is for something that costs a lot. Perhaps the researchers have discovered something about the way we interpret language in an age of letter-of-the-law linguistics.

Use Simpler Language Next Time (3, Funny)

Cartan (452962) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058765)

Most students probably didn't know what "confidentiality" means and played safe...

So if you have nothing to hide... (1)

WoollyMittens (1065278) | more than 6 years ago | (#24058837)

If you have nothing to hide, then surely you don't mind giving up your privacy to government agencies and private corporations with whom you have not trust-relationship whatsoever.

E-Commerce implications? (2, Insightful)

Yarhajile (1150379) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059225)

I wonder how much this applies to E-commerce sites in regards to the ever prominent "Conversion Rate" metric. Many conversion rate analysts will say that plastering your privacy policies, showing security badges and offering a constant affirmation of your trustworthiness is paramount to convincing people they can and should buy from you. Could this actually, in some cases, be hurting your overall goal of getting people to open up their wallets to you? Raises my eyebrow for sure.

It still pays to be paranoid... (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059249)

and do your homework [background research] before you confide in people. Giving misleading information that is useless is always safer until you can be shown trust that people are worth entrusting.

why privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24059625)

If people know that someone made a whole load of money selling information about them to anybody, they will start thinking that information means something, and there are several good reason to keep information private. For people who say that they have nothing to hide I challenge them to put their information online and see what happen to their liives.

The anonymous paradox (1)

lucm (889690) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059785)

This story reminds me of another paradox: the anonymous paradox, where people feel like it is more "anonymous" to order online stuff that they don't want people to know about. But actually, if you really want this hardcore XXX movie but you don't want people to know about it, you should go physically to the adult store and pay cash instead of leaving an electronic paper trail. (Same rule applies to the purchase of Celine Dion's latest album!).

Oh! There were NOT told it was NOT confidential. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24060051)

Oh! I get it now... Took me a while to understand. And just in case somebody else had the same brain fart I did. The experiment was NOT the following:

"Did you plagiarize? This is confidential." Result: 25%.
"Did you plagiarize? This is not confidential." Result: 50%.

The experiment was the following:

"Did you plagiarize? This is confidential." Result: 25%.
"Did you plagiarize?" Result: 50%.

Wrong language? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#24060429)

The experiment was the following:

"Did you plagiarize? This is confidential." Result: 25%.
"Did you plagiarize?" Result: 50%.

Perhaps it should have been:

"Did you plagiarize? (You'll remain anonymous)" Result: ???

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