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The Implications of a Facebook Society

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the you-could-just-not-put-stuff-on-there dept.

Privacy 226

FloatsomNJetsom writes "The site Switched.com is taking a look at the slow death of privacy at the hands of social media sites such as Facebook and MySpace with a link to a report on the creepy practice of Facebook employees monitoring what pages you look at and a thought-provoking video interview with social media expert Clay Shirky — who says that social networks are profoundly changing our ability to keep our private lives private. 'Eventually, Shirky theorizes, society will have to create a space that's implicitly private even though it's technically public, not unlike a personal conversation held on a public street. Otherwise, our ability to keep our lives private will be forever destroyed. Of course, that might already be the case.'"

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Private Lives Private (5, Interesting)

srollyson (1184197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255491)

I don't think that sites like Facebook are "profoundly changing our ability to keep our private lives private." Rather, they're changing our ability to make our public lives more public. This is an important distinction, since these social sites make it quite clear by design that you are sharing your information with your friends and acquaintances. If people really wanted to keep the fact that they got smashed and rode horseback on their friend private, they'd just open up notepad and type away. Instead, they decide to broadcast that on a social website so their friends can see their drunken antics. Don't take this to mean that I condone the practice of Facebook employees (or gov't agents for the tin-foil hat crowd) browsing private profiles. There is an implication of semi-privacy if I set my profile to be viewable by friends only. If a potential employer sees Johnny McDrunkeverynight's public pictures and decides not to hire Johnny, fine. Maybe he shouldn't have used the megaphone (social websites) to broadcast his machismo.

Re:Private Lives Private (2, Insightful)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255567)

... or people need to start using pgp /gpg, and social networking platforms need to incorporate such technology more transparently into their sites.

Re:Private Lives Private (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21255623)

privacy is overrated and overvalued. desire for privacy is motivated by largely baseless fears and insecurities.

Re:Private Lives Private (2, Insightful)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255905)

> "privacy is overrated and overvalued. desire for privacy is motivated by largely baseless fears and insecurities."

... which is why you posted as an AC ... you have "baseless fears and insecurities"?

Since you think privacy is useless, why not install a webcam in your shower. After all, according to your premise, all the pedophiles out there should be able to see your kids "neked".

Pravacy has its uses - one being that people should have better things to do than snoop on other people's lives.

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

Moderatbastard (808662) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255957)

... which is why you posted as an AC ... you have "baseless fears and insecurities"?
Dude, look up and you'll see it. Apologies if you are a Dudess.

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

GNUlancer (1185281) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255917)

Yeah? Wanna me watching you pooping at the toilet room? :) Or perhaps, eavesdropping when you talk with your buddy on G.Bush and politics and then getting you sued for conspiracy/terrorism/whatever? :D

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256115)

Wouldn't bother me personally... as long as I could watch back.

'privacy' only works because everyone has it equally. If we all decide to give parts of it up (as facebook allows us to do) we get a more open society.

I did read a story where they theorized what would happen if privacy vanished altogether... IMO it was a bit utopian but the general principle (that pretty much what we use it for is to hide stuff we shouldn't be doing) was about right.

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

GNUlancer (1185281) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256237)

OK, you're right to some point, but this is all about Facebook staff and not other users. Let other users watch as long as they are not going to use gathered info in political/marketing ways. Two independent people on the net won't hurt each other, but if one of them represents an organization - this very well could happen.

Re:Private Lives Private (2, Insightful)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256311)

That's the unequality thing again - it's counterbalanced by the fact that if a marketing company were to do something (don't know what) with my information I could very publically call them scumbags, and ultimately hurt their bottom line.

eg. if company X gets my (largely freely available) details and starts spamming me, I publically denounce them as spammers.. with evidence. Their ISP shuts down their email, they lose a lot of money.

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

GNUlancer (1185281) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256421)

Well, hehe, I'm more concerned of the possibility of governmental surveillance :) Sometimes it's being the biggest and the worst corporation around and there's no one to go complain to :(

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

Escogido (884359) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255779)

social networking platforms won't bother with pgp etc. until there is enough demand for that. and somehow I doubt there will be enough demand in the nearest future.

we are waiting for a new world, made from people who know what to make public and what not to, because they are fully aware of consequences. the problems like those stated in the article are in my opinion merely transitional. once the new reality sets in, there will be unwritten laws on what to do / what to say / how to behave online, not unlike those we abide by in public IRL. until then, people will suffer for them not being careful and bitch about it. oh well.

Re:Private Lives Private (5, Interesting)

djasbestos (1035410) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255595)

I think it's important for users (and developers) of such sites to keep in mind that most people want only a limited degree of visibility. Like you said, people do want to share those drunken escapades with their friends, but not necessarily with strangers, or worse, employers, or worse, mom and dad.

So it's perhaps prudent to give control over the visibility of content, but at the same time, I think people need to realize that a person's MyFace page is not necessarily descriptive of them in every environment or context. Most people behave differently at work than they do with close friends. And being a lawfully drunk weirdo on your own time doesn't really bear much on your professional life unless you show up hungover. Which could happen either way.

My point: people should not take these sites too seriously.

Re:Private Lives Private (3, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255835)

So it' like a girl who wants to have pornographic pictures taken of her for money, yet is all pissed off when her father buys that very magazine two months later.
My opinion. You want privacy, You want Only certain people to know certain things. you don't publish them on a website, you don't run around a bar with whomever doing stupid things.

In general the information on FAcebook/myspace/ etc is ultimately harmless, As those people will tell their co-workers eaactly what thy did anyways

Re:Private Lives Private (-1, Offtopic)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255999)

If you don't want people to know about it, don't do it. If you're going to do it, don't expect us to stick our heads in the sands just to help you out.

As far as I'm concerned, privacy is for liars and conspirators. I don't want anyone to have it, and I like the way that people are slippery sloping to the point where this illusion is too unbelievable to bother continuing to maintain.

This is a good thing.

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

apparently (756613) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256099)

As far as I'm concerned, privacy is for liars and conspirators.

I don't know which is more appropriate:
+5 Batshit Insane
or
+5 Awesome Satire

Re:Private Lives Private (4, Interesting)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255913)

I think it's important for users (and developers) of such sites to keep in mind that most people want only a limited degree of visibility. Like you said, people do want to share those drunken escapades with their friends, but not necessarily with strangers, or worse, employers, or worse, mom and dad.


If we can't keep PRIVATE data private (think of all the data leaks - credit card, SSNs, etc), what makes you think we can keep PUBLIC data "somewhat private"?

Perhaps the operating motto should be "data leaks happen". If you want limited visibility to some event, spread the news in a limited fashion. Otherwise checking the box that reads "friends only" puts the trust into whatever's ensuring that. But some gizmo, gadget, geegaw, what-have-you that someone wrote might (accidentally, ignorantly, purposely) ignore that flag, and boom, it becomes public.

It isn't new. It isn't confined to these "social networking" sites. After all, if you do something stupid in public, you're counting on everyone around you keeping it quiet so it doesn't show up on YouTube in 5 minutes. Now you're counting on one of your friends also not passing on this to someone else? Sure that "someone else" may not be able to view the source material, at which point it becomes another telephone game. Or someone just saves the picture and emails it to everyone, and soon your boss has it in his inbox.

To control information dissemination, it requires control on all levels. Don't want the general public to see it? Don't post it. "Friends only" is still public, just you've applied a little bit of DRM on it.

Ah, maybe that's the solution. You'll have to DRM-protect all this "Friends only" stuff to keep it only between your friends and not your friend's friends (and so on). After all, DRM works great on music and movies...

Re:Private Lives Private (2, Insightful)

kieran (20691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255615)

While it's true that people are foolishly publishing information publicly that they could easily keep private, this is essentially a matter of poor user education. There are plenty of people on Facebook who simply don't understand the privacy implications of posting stuff on their profile, and the privacy setting defaults are wide open.

If we really want social networking to be acceptable to the world at large and to keep the scare stories under control, we need to do a better job of educating users and/or providing accounts with more suitable privacy settings.

Re:Private Lives Private (4, Interesting)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255795)

we need to do a better job of educating users
Who's this 'we' who needs to do a better job of educating users? If you're saying that Computer Studies in school should concentrate far more on issues like this then I agree but the vast majority of users have left school and how exactly are 'we' or whomever, going to educate them.

It's exactly the same with malware protection, far too many users don't understand the risks in opening e-mail attachments or downloading 'free' wallpaper but there's no way to teach them, nor, in a non-totalitarian society, should there be. It's the price you pay for freedom - the freedom of illeducated users to operate computers.

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

kieran (20691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255909)

We: Facebook, their friends, news sources, schools, whomever. I think I meant it as "the technical community".

In this particular case, the best positioned to do the work would be Facebook - but I'm not sure they have the incentive, as they may be best served by people leaving things public and open and social.

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256413)

we need to do a better job of educating users

Hmm: "Miss America [theregister.co.uk] calls for mandatory internet safety classes — Tells Congress she looked at dirty photos"

You are not alone.

CC.

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

CheechBG (247105) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255683)

I came in here to say almost exactly this.

I think the paranoia of the "death to privacy" crowd is fueled simply because employers and other similar people are taking an more active interest in their prospective employee and their PUBLIC life. I caps public for the simple reason that once you post your 5,000 word essay on how you scored with the fat girl last night and you can't remember it because you had a Jim Beam IV drip, it moves from your private life (implied privacy due to the controlled dissemination (or lack thereof) of information, assuming the fat girl plays ball as well) to your public life and is not fair game to ridicule, reprimand, response by the other party (since if she implied privacy, you didn't hold up your end of the deal) or review by a neutral third party trying to gauge what kind of person you are. From a corporate perspective, it makes good business sense. I don't want to hire as a outside sales representative someone I know has demonstrated public displays of drunkenness and shenanigans. What if he forgets to take off a company supplied piece of clothing, and now his mugshot is displayed with my company logo? Or even better, someone who can't keep it in his(or her, not trying to be sexist) pants, brags about all the people they've slept with on FaceBook/MySpace, and opens a possibility for a sexual harassment suit?

Re:Private Lives Private (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21255747)

Should we start to chat about how you were a dope smoking drunkass in college that couldn't even make it with the fat girl? heh!

Re:Private Lives Private (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256305)

Flamebait? This is +5 INFORMATIVE. I know Cheech and he was a massive nerd who was repeatedly turned down by fat girls!

I own you bitch!

Re:Private Lives Private (2, Informative)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255847)

Why should you care what your employees do privately? So he told people he got drunk and screwed a fat chic? So what? Maybe instead of concerning yourself with what-ifs, you should worry about what actually happens. People in your company right NOW could be doing those things, you just don't know about it.

You're not paying him when he's out partying so you should have zero say on how he conducts himself. If at some point he DOES do something stupid wearing your company logo, deal with it then. Although I don't see Nike getting upset when THEIR logo is worn by a some drunk college kid.

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

egburr (141740) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256069)

There are a lot of professions where a person's private life does very often get associated with their work life, and their employer wants to control what gets associated with the company. Some examples are teachers and police officers. These people have very strict behavior requirements on the job. One very important quality is that their students and the general public respect them and trust them. Even when off duty, they often encounter people that they deal with as part of their job, and they have to maintain their on-the-job relationship. Since they can not predict when that may happen, that usually means "any time you are in a non-private location".

Theoretically, what you do on your own time is no business of your employer. Unfortunately, it can still affect your on-the-job performance. So, if you want to stay employed, you often have to restrict your off-the-job activities to either a very controlled private environment or to what is acceptable on-the-job.

My wife is in such a position, and while I understand her employers requirements, some of them chafe, and some of them I disagree with. But, she likes her job and for now at least is willing to abide by those restrictions in public.

Re:Private Lives Private (2, Interesting)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256491)

So you state there are lots, and name two? And the second one having a much higher rate of things like domestic violence and corruption, and you think it matters if they get drunk once in a while? In small towns, yes, you can run into people you met at work, but even that is rare. In larger cities, its a non-issue.

I'm not sure why you brought up personal behavior that affects your job performance; I already clearly stated that is an issue the employer should handle (and the only time an employees personal life is relevent).

I can't imagine why anyone would accept a situation where their job affects their personal life, unless the pay is enough to cover that. Otherwise there's no reason to accept such an answer.

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

KiahZero (610862) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255885)

Alternatively, we as a society could grow up and stop being gigantic hypocrites about our social lives.

The people taking the "corporate perspective" aren't any different than the people they're passing judgment on, but they'll do it anyway, because that's the current societal expectation. Hopefully, as more and more people start sharing more of their lives, these sorts of ridiculous expectations will go away, and we can all be more honest.

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

Stretch Armstrong (1185285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255771)

It's actually pretty well known that the government is watching and monitoring facebook (in response to tin hat people) the video linked shows how facebook is connected to the government. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMWz3G_gPhU [youtube.com]

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255805)

There's only so much we can do to protect stupid people from themselves. Eventually we have to give up and let Darwinian selection take it's course.

Re:Private Lives Private (4, Interesting)

ZombieWomble (893157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255817)

I think one of the big issues with the development of the social networking sites is that it's not always the person's decision to be featured on facebook - I don't have an account on facebook/myspace/etc, and yet I know there are numerous photos of me, labelled as such, on those sites, because I associate with people who do use them. It's not a big deal at the moment (the photos are only linked in the most tenous of ways, and none of them are particularly dodgy), but there is a potential there - even if someone isn't actually actively participating in such sites, there is likely to be information on them there.

There is the potential that, as social networking sites evolve, it may be possible to extract a non-trivial amount of information on a person simply from their associations with others, even if they choose not to add any additional facts to the mix.

I do agree that, at the moment, the majority of the people on these sites are being bitten in the ass by their own stupidity, but I don't think this necessarily holds in the future.

Re:Private Lives Private (4, Interesting)

MoneyT (548795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255891)

Then you need to speak with the people you associate with about your expectations of privacy. It's not facebook's fault your friends are violating your privacy.

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

sfmarco (113003) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256345)

This is already getting realistic with Photo Tagging features; allowing users to identify other people on pictures.

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256523)

Step 1: Ask politely for the pictures to be removed.
Step 2: Ask forcefully for the pictures to be removed.
Step 3: Ask to see the signed model release that allows your image to be published.

Of course, this gets dodgy - are model reelases required for acts in a public space, and/r "publishing w/o profit?

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256039)

If people really wanted to keep the fact that they got smashed and rode horseback on their friend private, they'd just open up notepad and type away. Instead, they decide to broadcast that on a social website so their friends can see their drunken antics.

You get smashed, you don't type on you facebook about your antics, but you friend does and you share all same contacts, whats more, those contacts include people who are not necessarily friends but more acquitances, work colleagues etc.

Information has been passed to everyone you might know with out you doing anything to start that process off

I suppose you could argue that that situation is the same as having your friend talking to her friends about what happened but it's the scale and indiscriminate nature of who gets that information that kills privacy.

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256199)

You get smashed, you don't type on you facebook about your antics, but you friend does and you share all same contacts, whats more, those contacts include people who are not necessarily friends but more acquitances, work colleagues etc.

Woo you got smashed and did stupid stuff. Like the rest of the population of the frikkin world... Everyone knows anyway. What do you think this revelation is going to do?

If facebook allows people to realize they are *not* somehow uniquely special then it's done a good thing.

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256045)

Or don't write it down anywhere at all, obviously..

Some sites like deviantArt have all your browsing activity displayed by default anyway. There is the option to turn it off. And I fail to see the problem with knowing who has checked your own profile, especially if they are doing it repeatedly.

Re:Private Lives Private (1)

keithjr (1091829) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256209)

I wish both this could be upmodded past 5. Just because people fail to realize they are operating in a public space does NOT mean their privacy has diminished. Failing to understand the ramifications of being part of a social networking site does not give one the excuse to call it "creepy." The very concept of social networking is to make information about yourself public.

What scares me is that before I graduated I'd overhear people at school saying things like "Facebook is what I use instead of email now." Wow.

"Never blame malice for what can adequately be blamed on stupidity" - R.Feynman

Idiots, not Facebook, spell the end of privacy. (3, Insightful)

xC0000005 (715810) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255525)

If you stand on the corner and scream out your inner most thoughts, don't be suprised if anyone within a few blocks knows (and crosses to the other side of the street when they see you coming). Don't want something known widely? Don't post it on a public web site.

Re:Idiots, not Facebook, spell the end of privacy. (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255669)

Don't want something known widely? Don't post it on a public web site.

Not only that but I'm not sure why they are surprised that employees can view the surfing habits of individuals users on the site that they host. I guess it goes back to the whole story yesterday about US Consumers being clueless about online tracking [slashdot.org] . Honestly, I continuously monitor the viewing habits of users on my website (the vast majority are anonymous however) so that I can improve content posted, how content is laid out, etc.

This is such a non-story that it isn't even funny.

Re:Idiots, not Facebook, spell the end of privacy. (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255881)

Well, it's not a news flash here in the tech community, but to the outside world it is. However, you don't see MSNBC, 20/20, or any of the other news shows spending a lot of time on this kind of subject. The Internet is still the 21st Century's version of the Wild West. When you think about it, it's a pretty lawless place, given that it crosses international boundaries, is subject to blocking/re-routing at the whim of some governments, and that no one group really controls it, despite the fact that everyone wants to put their stamp on it. The general populace still views the Internet as magic and has no regard for just how it all works. Like their cars, they don't notice anything is wrong until it breaks down for them.

Re:Idiots, not Facebook, spell the end of privacy. (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256159)

Like their cars, they don't notice anything is wrong until it breaks down for them.

Another bad analogy I guess because this really doesn't apply here at all. Facebook is doing something that they should be doing. Monitoring usage of their site. Nothing is broken and there don't need to be any laws governing this.

A website operator and its staff should have the ability to see and do whatever they need to make certain the site continues to operate well as it grows and the userbase evolves. If those working behind the scenes at Facebook were only permitted, by law, to run the site and offer some sort of internal privacy guarantee that no one would look at what content was out there, the site would fall apart to legal pressure from the outside for other violations.

Re:Idiots, not Facebook, spell the end of privacy. (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255677)

Don't post it on a public web site.

and make sure no one else posts it either. every 3rd* person has a cell phone capable of recording video or at the very least taking pictures.

Re:Idiots, not Facebook, spell the end of privacy. (2, Interesting)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255807)

I agree. Now, a big part of the problem isn't you screaming what you consider private. Is that you can't control a crowd of known idiots shouting in public every little detail they know about you. Specially when such sites as Facebook don't require your authorization when other people post about you. Regardless of your authorization, if they post it, "they" know.
On the other hand, if you don't appear at all in any social site, that would sure make you a prime suspect to any NSA agent who would and should order further research on your social habits, probably digging more deep than you would ever wanted to.

And for a Less Paranoid Argument... (1)

Rachel Lucid (964267) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256555)

Let's say you have a fairly mundane existance, except for Creepy Stalker 'X'. Ideally, you would like to be able to prevent Creepy Stalker 'X' from seeing anything, while protecting the rest of your existence.

In the current state of the internet, this can't really be done. On Facebook, it can 'kinda' be done, at least on a user-to-user basis.

Re:Idiots, not Facebook, spell the end of privacy. (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256455)

Don't want something known widely? Don't post it on a public web site.

And for gods sake... If someone else posts it, don't send them a DMCA takedown notice or it will be the top downloaded torrent in 1 hour.

But seriously, I don't have a face book account but I think there are pictures of me out there (I got mistaken for an anime character at con once I think). I suppose I could threaten those accounts for having a pic of me standing in a crowd, but that isnt' really worth it the effort.

Still... I suppose an employer with facial recognition technology would one day find me on someones face book attending a convention.

Solution: don't join facebook? (4, Insightful)

VorpalEdge (967279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255535)

It's not like anyone is forcing you to join it or other social networking sites. If you must join it, just have a cursory account and don't update it, ever. Just use it to read your friend's news or whatnot.

You can only lose privacy in this sort of thing if you give the info out to begin with. If you don't do that, you're pretty safe.

Re:Solution: don't join facebook? (0, Offtopic)

seededfury (699094) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255693)

I once had thirteen accounts on myspace to create my own social network within the site. It is a lot of fun sharing secrets with myself

Re:Solution: don't join facebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21255827)

> I once had thirteen accounts on myspace to create my own social network within the site. It is a lot of fun sharing secrets with myself

You, sir, are a dork.

You may also qualify as a "social masturbator".

Re:Solution: don't join facebook? (2, Insightful)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255711)

The only problem is that someone can just post a picture of you having a pee in the middle of the street on a Saturday night and then next thing you know, it's in a national newspaper.

Rather like this [dailymail.co.uk]

Re:Solution: don't join facebook? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256253)

The only problem is that someone can just post a picture of you having a pee in the middle of the street on a Saturday night and then next thing you know, it's in a national newspaper.

It's only news to the chattering classes. Anyone who's actually been *outside* on a saturday night has seen worse than that every single week.

And I agree with the comments on that page. WTF is it with the focusing on women? Like last month they were all nuns or something?

Re:Solution: don't join facebook? (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255823)

Go it one better... make stuff up! Do you honestly think that the vast majority of Facebook users are reporting completely factual information in their profiles?

This is nothing new -- people say it about online searches, eBay auctions, Amazon.com profiles. Nobody is making anybody put their information on the Web. The only reason you would want it out there is to get noticed for something. If you're willing to accept that exposing your life details is going to expose you to all sorts of other unsavory things, then be happy. If not, lower you Web footprint and stay in the background.

Re:Solution: don't join facebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256373)

Of course you are not forced to join any social network or buy online, but if people accept and tolerate the traking of any personal information more and more companies are going to make track it. So it will get harder to even avoid broadcasting personal information.
If one day everyone uses basecamp (37signals) and you are forced by your client to use it, what are you going to do? The next day 37signals decides to sell your personal Information...

Re:Solution: don't join facebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21255831)

That's enough for most intents and purposes - of the data miners. Knowing the relationship web tells them who you are by association. Looking at whose news you read and who sends you mail gives them that information. It is true. The existence and widespread use of social networking sites does limit your individual freedom to keep your life private by increasing the cost: You can abstain only at the cost of being excluded from social events and news which are communicated through these sites.

Re:Solution: don't join facebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256561)

But even you post nothing, the Facebook people are watching you look at other people's pages!

I'd comment on this... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21255537)

But I have a feeling someone is watching!

*gasp*

Re:I'd comment on this... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256419)

Yeah.. about that. Could you *please* wear pants when surfing the internet. It would do all of us here at HQ a big favor. I'd simply put in a request to brainwash you into putting on pants, but the paper work for that is like ten pages, and it takes a couple months to go through the red tape and what not. If you don't comply, we'll simply just have to come to your house and beat the everliving daylight out of you. Less paperwork for that.

Egregious nonsense (4, Insightful)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255551)

Eventually, Shirky theorizes, society will have to create a space that's implicitly private even though it's technically public, not unlike a personal conversation held on a public street. Otherwise, our ability to keep our lives private will be forever destroyed. ...Or you could just refrain from posting the details of your private life to the Internet.

Re:Egregious nonsense (2, Funny)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255651)

But you forget the compulsive typists like myself that can't help but divulge things like their cheating wife and erectile dysfunction on the internet in public forums... wait...

*submit*

"DAMNIT!"

Re:Egregious nonsense (3, Interesting)

TheViewFromTheGround (607422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255765)

Saying that you can simply refrain from posting the details of your private life to the Internet misses part of the point here. To communicate with many of my friends, who insist on using social networking sites as their main avenues for staying in touch with friends, I am forced to use a privately-owned network where many of my rights may be waived. You could say, of course, that I should not stay in contact with those friends, but in real life it is not so easy to make such demands, especially when we are talking about communicating with relatives and dear friends, often in cases where communication is essential, such as family emergencies. Pragmatically, it just isn't always feasible to say "use the public internet and the (broken) standards for email."

The phenomena is similar to the shrinking amount of public space in the United States: A popular tourist destination in the city where I live used to be public property, and anyone could come with a sign and a cause and exercise their right to free speech -- including criticizing the government that maintained the large, open-air space. Within the past decade, the city sold the land and put the space under private management, and now one cannot go and peacefully exercise their right to free speech -- the private owner has far greater effective and legal discretion over what happens on their land. Most of us must move quite a bit through the space around them -- roads, offices, parks, hospitals, stores, and even virtual spaces -- and the ownership (common, corporate, or individual) has an effect on what we do and say, and what others can do and say to us.

Future Society (4, Funny)

Grandiloquence (1180099) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255593)

I think they're referring to the Facebook Wars of 2013, after which the nominal Facebook World Government will require all citizens to publish their most intimate details online for public scrutiny.

Re:Future Society (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255937)

"I think they're referring to the Facebook Wars of 2013, after which the nominal Facebook World Government will require all citizens to publish their most intimate details online for public scrutiny."
The revolution will not be posted to YouTube!

Christ! More fucking Facebook editorial bukkake (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21255609)

Dear Journalists: Want to pre-write your next, oh, 50 articles? Dig up all your Friendster posts from the 90's, find-replace, and you're done.

Seriously, watching people OMGZOMGFACEBOOK!!!111one is just as painful as it was back then.

Does what happens in the Facebook stay in the Face (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21255633)

This seems feasible [albumoftheday.com] . A nice way for "The State" to monitor the masses. I still use Facebook as I like it, however, I think before I post information.

This would only hold true... (2)

TofuMatt (1105351) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255639)

... if you were forced to get a Facebook account.

Other than what bands I like and what shows I might be going to at local pubs, Facebook knows nothing about me. But the price of putting yourself, and your thoughts, out onto the Internet has always been that anyone can know what you post.

But that's just it, isn't it: what you make public becomes public. That's not shocking news, unless you think that your boss might not notice your "My boss is a dingbat!" Facebook group/blog.

If you're happy (or, in some cases, stupid enough) to be posting (semi-)private details of your life on the web for people to see, especially on sites that you really don't control (like a blog not on your own server or on Facebook/Myspace/etc.), then be prepared to face the consequences; we've already heard lots of stories about students/employees getting in shit for what they write on personal pages. We've been forewarned, and to keep acting shocked, appauled, or violated is absurd.

Your private life is your's, yes, but when you post its details in a public forum... well... shit might happen. Not a new idea.

Re:This would only hold true... (3, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256521)

But that's just it, isn't it: what you make public becomes public.

Yes, and what other people post about you also become public. Bear that in mind.

No Privacy Implications Here (0, Redundant)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255645)

There are no privacy implications for me regarding Face Book because I choose not to use it. No Face Book, no My Space, nothing. If only security were always that easy.

Re:No Privacy Implications Here (1)

baomike (143457) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256111)

Redundant it may be , but real it is.

Re: The Implications of a Facebook Society (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21255657)

That Slashdot will take it's politics FUD and FUD FUD and finally die and leave my fond memories of earlier Slashdot days alone?

No? Off-Topic even??? Hah... I got an account but I don't care to log in anymore.

Or you could just, you know (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255685)

NOT POST YOUR SHIT ON FACEBOOK!

Seriously, I'll never understand these stories that seem to make it as though you have no choice but to divulge all sorts of personal details online. No, actually not the case. If you wish, you can simply not participate. I personally don't. You can search Myspace, Facebook, and so on, you'll never find anything about me. I don't have a page, don't want a page. I just don't participate in that part of the Internet.

However, even if you do, you can simply not be an idiot about it. It is perfectly possible to create a personal site and give away only the kind of details that you are ok with. There's plenty of information on all of us that is public anyhow, maybe you limit it to just that, or a subset of that. You can have a page and not tell everyone everything about your life. The only problem is if you post intimate details, but expect that only the people who you approve of will see it. That is just, well, stupid. Even if the site claims to have privacy features, don't count on it.

The test I say you should apply is a three factor one: Do you want your mom to know this? Do you want your boss (present and future) to know this? Do you want a creepy sex offender to know this? If the answer to any of those is "no" then DON'T POST IT! Why? Because all three of those people can use the Internet, so all three might come across your page. As such filter your information. Don't post anything you wouldn't want your family to find out, and certainly don't post anything you wouldn't want your work to find out about.

If people just apply a little common sense to it, it really works out ok. You don't have to participate, and if you elect to, if you are just smart bout it and don't do shit like post pictures of you and your friends getting high, you'll probably be just fine.

Re:Or you could just, you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21255763)

What about people who post pictures of you without asking? If I'm not on the site, I'll never know right?

Re:Or you could just, you know (1)

siride (974284) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256327)

What's to stop people from taking pictures of you and posting them on the streetcorner, or giving them to a newspaper, or putting them on a blog or personal website... There's really no way to stop that except for suing for libel, if you actually have a case.

Baby/bathwater (2, Interesting)

kieran (20691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255985)

"Don't post it" is a good default option, but these sites are too useful to just ignore like that. At one very basic level, Facebook is an address book: you put in your address and phone number and email in, restrict that information to friends and add people you are okay having it. The result, potentially, is an address book that updates itself automatically as people change their numbers and email/street addresses.

Imagine that tied in with your phone, and you have something interesting. And FB has many other interesting and potentially interesting uses - the photo tagging is very nifty and the event organising also useful. But you have to be careful about security if you don't want to get bitten on the ass, and being careful with security is not so easy (or perhaps just not so natural) for the non-tech crowd.

Re:Or you could just, you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256073)

Isn't society, and its relaxed thoughts on security of public info, actually a driver for new technology/security? Napster begot the Ipod in many ways. Shouldn't the programmers be thinking about new ways to filter, protect and make available all of the data that's being pored onto the internet?

Re:Or you could just, you know (0, Flamebait)

blindcoder (606653) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256221)

I couldn't agree more.
Anyone posting shit on 'social networking' (aka: emotional/personal strip tease) sites should just stop a second to think about the consequences.

For the rest of us, our chances for a good job go up with every idiot on those sites.

Re:Or you could just, you know (1)

voltheir (1087207) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256447)

insightful? this comment has absolutely nothing to do with the real point of the article! how was it modded as such? this site frustrates me more by the day. digg here i come!

From the linked blog... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255687)

"Within the company, it's considered a job perk, and employees check this data for fun."

And,

"Well, Facebook's privacy policy doesn't explicitly reserve or waive employees' right to check out your profile for any reason. Of course, the practice still reeks of skunkery --"

The linked article goes on, with some anecdotal incidents that make for fun and disturbing reading.

Just about says it all. Use Facebook, pretty much forfeit any privacy. The Facebook employees seem to not only have the power, but consider it high camp to enjoy your data.

Harrr. My Facebook-lovin friends are gonna pretty much feel violated by this. What was that phrase? Oh yeah...

Revelling in the agony of others.

Re:From the linked blog... (1)

zegota (1105649) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256251)

What was that phrase? Oh yeah...

Schadenfreude.

Nice. (1)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255715)

Getting an error on the first page, I clicked through for the full video on the page (http://video.aol.com/video/news-switched-shirky/2011535) and got an error message: "We're sorry, but this video is not available in your area." I didn't realize that AOL had to ship the video to England in order for me to see it. I guess I just don't understand how the internet works.

-Grey [wellingtongrey.net]

Where's the NON-STORY tagging? (0, Troll)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255723)

taking a look at the slow death of privacy at the hands of social media sites

Social Media sites have no influence over privacy. Marked lame.

Re:Where's the NON-STORY tagging? (1)

trybywrench (584843) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255997)

I don't know why the parent was modded troll. Their statement:

Social Media sites have no influence over privacy

is exactly right. Social Media sites have about as much influence over privacy as a street corner does.

this is article is completely stupid (0, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255833)

people WANT this information out there. end of fucking story. the rest is predicated on a failed assumption

and EVEN IF there is someone out there who is so stupid as to think posting this information is private: who amongst us ever thought it is our duty in this world to protect morons from themselves?

Re:this is article is completely stupid (4, Funny)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255915)

and EVEN IF there is someone out there who is so stupid as to think posting this information is private: who amongst us ever thought it is our duty in this world to protect morons from themselves?

One word: Congress

Hmm (1)

Limburgher (523006) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255849)

Eventually, Shirky theorizes, society will have to create a space that's implicitly private even though it's technically public, not unlike a personal conversation held on a public street. Otherwise, our ability to keep our lives private will be forever destroyed. Of course, that might already be the case.'"


You mean like /.?

Repeat after me: (0, Troll)

samael (12612) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255855)

Security through obscurity is not obscurity - tell anyone and you've told everyone.
Information wants to be free. Even when said information is a photo of you lying unconscious next to a keg.

Keeping the private private... (1)

_14k4 (5085) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255901)

In terms of the internet: Why not just stay offline or off of sites like that? It's quite simple, no? And there still exist letters, email, and other methods of communication with past friends. The way I feel about it, if they are still friends today, they've kept communication lines open past highschool/college/etc.

Clay Shirky: Reactionary? (1)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255953)

The impression I got from Clay Shirky here was, "OMG! The Internet!"

My personal believe is that every person should work and live as openly as practically possible. This is how Open Source has developed, and if we are to have a free society, this is how we should live. It's when you can't see people as people, that you are okay with treating them as trash.

Here's an idea (1)

ats-tech (770430) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256013)

"social networks are profoundly changing our ability to keep our private lives private"

If you want to keep your private lives private, don't post it on the intraweb for all to see.

Novel... I know.

So what? (1)

TheBrutalTruth (890948) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256015)

This argument (public vs. private) is only relevant if one uses these sites (Slashdot included, folks!). As Big Brother becomes more of a reality day by day, people are playing right into "his" hands. I don't get it, myself. While I post on Slashdot, opening up my views for all to see and criticize - I do not, and will not post pics of my ugly ass on FaceSpace or whatever the social site of the day is. I don't need to be that public, but I guess others do. Is it a social trend that everyone wants to be a star? Wow, my plans to rule the world would never come true is everyone knew about them, drawings included.

My tinfoil hat is painted Red, White, and Blue!

Missing a point? (1)

SFA_AOK (752620) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256053)

Are some replies missing the point?

I'm not able to view the interview as I'm currently at work but the summary talks about a semi-public space. I think the implication is that people want the moon on a stick - a place they can easily share details about themselves without fear of comeback at a later date.

Then again, I wonder why selecting the option of only letting friends view your profile isn't sufficient, but perhaps I'm not down with the kids and their nonchalance to keeping some things private (using words like "nonchalance", I suspect I'm not down with the kids full stop).

RTFA (1)

voltheir (1087207) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256055)

Most of the whiny trolls on this site are saying the article is stupid; that if you don't want your information to be public, don't post it. However, many of you either failed to comprehend or failed to read the article. Every click on the site is mined in the database, regardless of your "Privacy Settings". This data is accessible to Facebook employees (and most likely advertising firms and government agencies that pay for/demand it...). That is what the article is pointing out. Even still that should really come as no surprise.

Implications (1)

Organic Brain Damage (863655) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256067)

The original article implies that we MUST all use Facebook if we're going to participate in the world around us today. Me, I'm not going to do it. Screw Facebook and Flickr and the rest of it. Peoples' home movies and slide shows of their vacations were boring in 1970 when they were projected on the wall and they're still boring when they're on Facebook and Flickr.

I guess I'm a luddite, but I prefer to socialize face-to-face with no recording devices. Not cameras, not audio recorders. Some things are best forgotten.

Employers Should Tread Cautiously (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256077)

Opening themselves the information on Facebook and such opens them up to screwing up Equal Opportunity Employer status. Knowing folks religion and sexual orientation is something employers should avoid.

Stupid. (2, Insightful)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256141)

Several things - first, what the hell is a "social media expert"? Reminds me of the absurdly specific correspondent titles on the Daily Show.

Second, social networks are populated by voluntary disclosure, and participants have no expectation of privacy. You never know who might be reading it, so I don't put anything on there that I wouldn't feel comfortable putting on a postcard. This is basically implicit inasmuch as you are joining a social network, where the whole idea is to share information about yourself.

Third, I've found that the best way to defend myself against identity theft is to just be myself, which is to say, boring. Who would want to be me, when even I don't want to be me? Plus, the more time I spend on Facebook, the more I notice that people everywhere are adopting my strategy.

Fourth, at the end of the day, social networks are just another way to waste time on the internet. There's more to life than sitting in front of a computer. I promise!

Get over it (2, Insightful)

kscguru (551278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256229)

Or, as Scott McNealy said, "You have no privacy. Get over it." Funny how nobody liked the comment when he made it, yet he was completely right.

Yes, somebody out there is going to store every bit of data they can because it just MIGHT be useful. Data storage is extremely cheap: if a marketer can get one lead from 1GB of web server access logs, he's making a profit. The feds want to cross-index databases because some analyst thinks terrorists would obscure online activities by using one account to communicate with like-minded people and another account to do research for some attack - and if 500TB of data stops an attack, it's cheap. (The idiot analyst is grossly underestimating the difficulty of cross-indexing databases - hint, names are NOT good primary keys - and it's his manager's fault for approving the idea, but you can't stop idiots with poor management from doing stupid things.)

Worse, no amount of government laws will protect your "public" data. Oh, laws can keep the government from using it ... somewhat. (In the US, warrentless searches are inadmissible in court - but they aren't illegal, the police can use such evidence to decide to watch you more closely in hopes of getting real, admissible evidence). But laws are not going to keep private companies from using your data. Privacy policies are great, but (IANAL) probably flimsier than EULAs that everybody here on Slashdot derides. And there is always an immoral company willing to violate its own privacy policy for a business advantage. Example ineffective law: in the US, you aren't supposed to use SSNs for personal identification (except for the IRS). So everyone just starts using the last four digits of the SSN, which technically complies but, when combined with just a little more data, is just as invasive. (Hint: there are 300 million people in the US. 30,000 have the same four-digits as you, 600 are in the same state (in California), 5 are in the same city, and none use the same set of banks you do). The law will not protect your privacy. Sorry.

But what are the effects of this invasion of privacy? A private company could refuse service to you - most companies can already do that for any number of reasons, maybe they don't like your credit history or your choice in web browsers. The government could arrest you - they can already do that for any reason, it's the court that will order your release, and the court is unbiased enough to not care about anything except the charge. Maybe you'll find out your neighbor has a thing for horse porn and think less of him. Well, it's your own fault, if you don't want to know about horse porn fetishes, then don't go looking for them.

What's Off Limits? My Nipples. (1)

FloatsomNJetsom (1041770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256245)

For all of you who are yelling that social network sites unnecessarily require a choice to make things public, check out the Mo Rocca interview video [switched.com] linked to from the main article page. Insightful, to say the least. Hilarious, to say the not least.

Or as some old blues guy said: (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256297)

Ya pays ya money ya makes ya choice. I have yet to hear a cogent argument for WHY divulging your life on Facebook is a necessity. You do seem to have a lot of power over what you do and do not divulge. Now in terms of tracking your movements elsewhere - yeah that's a given but the FB generation didn't discover that. I mean you could Google underage porn too - if you think no one is flagging that you are dull.

No issue for me (1)

ewhenn (647989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256299)

The site Switched.com is taking a look at the slow death of privacy at the hands of social media sites such as Facebook and MySpace ...... Otherwise, our ability to keep our lives private will be forever destroyed. Of course, that might already be the case.'


Or you can not use "social networking" sites, just like myself. Electronic and fast isn't alwaysa good. I'll keep my "social networking" face to face and personal, TYVM.

privacy (1)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256333)

To be completely sure that your private messages remain private, you must:
  1. Hand deliver cryptography keys to other party
  2. Encrypt all sensitive messages prior to delivery
  3. Trust other party to never share the encryption method
Today, with public keys, we can generally skip step 1. The other party can send you their public keys through unencrypted email, or on a public bulletin board, and using them will be fine, as long the mailservices between you didn't tamper with those public keys during transmission.

Everyone (even your mom) knows that steps 2 and 3 are non-negotiable.

So, why would anyone think that sending a private message through facebook would really be private? With encryption as cheap and easy as it today, I think that this is a non-concern. There's no guarantee that facebook won't sell your information to the highest bidder. The same goes if you use gmail or MSN hotmail for email. There is no practical reason that anyone should need to "trust" such companies to keep your information private. That responsibility is yours and yours alone.

filters (2, Insightful)

Bota (968795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256389)

It seems to me that the employers who would judge someone on their facebook profile are probably the ones who are doing lines of coke off some 13 year old boy's backside while beating an endangered species to death with a pvc pipe. So what if johnny Q public got drunk and tagged the big girl at the party? So what if he smoked a little grass on his way home from work? The people who put the spin on these things to make them seem evil or bad employee material are simply filtering the things these people are doing in their private life through their own demented view of reality. Yes we should all be a little more private about our private life. but let's face it. the things I do after work are mostly harmless and mostly not worth considering private. If you want to delineate everything you do outside of your workplace as private then you probably don't have a facebook or myspace account. Those that fear being seen for their actions usually are not that into social networking.

Flawed premise (1)

kennylogins (1092227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256443)

nm
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