Big dotcom corporations are spying on us while we use the internet, collecting search habits and page visits, to direct internet ads that have a higher chance of enticing and luring us to click (Pearson, 2009). Our privacy is being infringed. Right? We should be outraged. Right?
If this were 10 years ago, the answer would be a resounding yes. But these days, in the days of omnipotent Social Media, this is a mere peek over your backyard fence, a tolerated nuisance, compared to what we are now dishing out voluntarily on the net (or perhaps unknowingly in the case of Pearson’s (2009, para. 19) Golden Gate Flickr story).
Raynes-Goldie (2010) found that, in 2010, Social Media users (Facebook users in her study) are acutely aware that what they post online creates potential privacy concerns, but, as the default mode of communication, not having an online profile essentially equates to not existing (online, at least) (Cassidy as quoted in Raynes-Goldie, 2010). Raynes-Goldie found that users these days are much more concerned with “social privacy”, what they present online, rather than “institutional privacy”, how the site uses user information (Raynes-Goldie, 2010, para. 6). This ‘social privacy’ is also the result of connections happening online that aren’t the typical ‘friend’ connection, such as bosses, parents, and children all forming connections and being able to view what you post online – as Pearson (2010) puts it “never write anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read”.
So perhaps users aren’t as ignorant of the online footprint they are creating as might have been thought. Yes, people are volunteering information, at least a third sharing their true personalitiy just as one would in person (DeRosa, Cantrell, Havens, Hawk, & Jenkins, 2007, p. 3-11), but anonymity goes against everything the world of social media and social networking is about (Pearson, 2009) and why one joins.
The question what should we share and what should we retain as private will depend greatly on the person, just as in real life. As online profiles represent our true personalities more and more, there will be those who overshare and blurt out information they really shouldn’t, and there will be those who share very little and are perhaps no more than a name on blank profile screen. It is up to the user to decide how much they ant to present of themselves online, but I believe we will see more and more information being volunteered as we choose online to be our primary source of communication.
Cassidy, J. (2006). “Me media: How hanging out on the Internet became big business,” New Yorker (15 May), at http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/05/15/060515fa_fact_cassidy, accessed Jan 17, 2014.
De Rosa, C., Cantrell, J., Havens, A., Hawk, J. & Jenkins, L. (2007). Section 3: Privacy, Security and Trust. In Sharing privacy and trust in our networked world: A report to the OCLC membership. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC. [ebook] Available http://www.oclc.org/reports/pdfs/sharing_part3.pdf
Pearson, J. (2009). Life as a dog: Personal identity and the internet. Meanjin, 68(2), 67-77. Retrieved from http://search.informit.com.au/fullText;dn=200906244;res=APAFT
Raynes-Goldie, K. (2010). Aliases, creeping, and wall cleaning: Understanding privacy in the age of Facebook, First Monday, 15(1), 4 January. Available http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2775/2432