I was on YouTube the other day looking for some dance videos, when I saw my 5yr old dancing her little heart out. I was horrified. Some overly enthusiastic parent had recorded one of the dance sessions from her class and posted it on YT. I don’t know what bothered me more, that I wasn’t asked for permission or the belief that children’s classrooms should be off-limits. The video is innocuous but it’s the principle, where do you draw the line between what’s private and what’s public?
On Global Privacy Day yesterday, Erick Schonfield from Techcrunch provided some insights from Microsoft’s recent study on customer attitudes towards online privacy and the findings are very telling and especially this one,
Once their data is online, they know that it is gone. They say, “I need to have this value, but I’m not sure my risks are being covered.”
Have we all collectively gone nuts? Are we really so desperate to be ‘connected’ that we’re willing to risk our personal information to do it? We barely talk to our neighbors but we’re so willling to give random strangers online, the details of our personal life. It’s still shocking to me how many people add their birthdates, where they live, where they work, etc. to social networking sites. And that’s okay if you only share information with friends but when you’re adding everyone in the online world to your ‘friends’ list, how long before your information is abused by some cyber-criminal?
While we the users are behaving irrationally and irresponsibly, the social sites have been equally apathetic. Their response hasn’t been all that re-assuring either and their approach has been mostly reactive than proactive.
Twitter is working on an authentication protocol for third-party developers intended to make the site more secure, which sounds like a step in the right direction but begs the question: why it took them so long to react to a series of account hijackings? Popular blogger Louis Gray has Twittered about scamsters setting roost on Facebook, but there isn’t much transparency into what FB’s doing about it.
Identity theft-prevention experts urge consumers not to reveal too much personal information and privacy advocates are fighting for our right to keep our personal life..well..private, we are too busy tweeting every detail of our mundane lives and sharing our passwords with strange, unvetted strangers. Social media is still the wild wild west without any defined rules of engagement and we are changing the rules and making new ones up as we go along. As social media mature and users realize that following or befriending ten thousand strangers doesn’t make our social life any more fulfilling, rational thinking will (hopefully) prevail and we will start taking our privacy that much more seriously.