Privacy Thresholds

Is web2.0 breaking the barrier of our own privacy thresholds? Are we giving away more than ever in the act of “sharing”?

Bill Thompson sums it up

I’m as bad as anyone here, handing over my shopping patterns to supermarket loyalty schemes; sending unencrypted emails and visiting websites without seeking to disguise my identity; using Google for my searches and wandering the streets, often walking randomly around in a way that is guaranteed to make me look shifty.

Thomas Baekdal also had a good post on privacy policy and personal information. I liked this breakdown of personal information:

Personal information specific to you as a person – like your name, address, phone number, age, your education, the name of your children, your gender, who you are married to (or if you are single), social security number, tax number etc.
Information about your actions – what websites you have visited, what you have searched for, what products you like, what you bought at Amazon, how many times you went to the bathroom last week etc.
Information that you supply to a website – like the things you post about yourself on your blog, what you post on Twitter and the comments you made on varies websites.
Technical information that links you with any of the above – like your IP address, Mac address, unique cookie identifiers and encryption keys.

I recall working with a Fraud and Debt Collection Subject Matter Expert who showed me a checklist of tips for crime prevention. This included divulging information about personal habits, times you leave the house, days you work, information about your family, your name, shopping habits etc. It made me realise that sometimes seemingly trivial information can be quite revealing.

Some people go as far as sharing their home address on Facebook. I have heard of secondlife stalkers turning up at real life homes. Sometimes I wonder where to draw the line. I want to share, communicate, express, engage, and I like freedom of speech and the forming of virtual communities. Nowadays my CV is viewable to all on LinkedIn and I have photos of my monkeys on Facebook (for my “friends”- although I am looking forward to the implementation of filtering on Facebook which I understand is coming soon.) Some Flickr their personal pics for comment, I tweet some habits on twitter but all the while I am conscious of what I am telling and (hopefully) when it becomes too much. Maybe I already tell too much? Others may think I don’t tell enough.

Sometimes I feel a bit awkward when my identity appears on “recent vistors” blog widgets and I noticed Linked In has a recent visitors function too. Facebook tracks my actions in newsfeeds. Sometimes the actions can even be distorted eg when I have accidentally followed a link, changed my mind, or the Wondermonkeys have attacked my keyboard. Mr Wonderwebby was even talking to me the other day about Google having so much of our information (data) on gmail, googletalk, google apps, google reader etc

So what is my privacy threshold? Have I become desensitized to the traditional rules of keeping things personal through my 2.0 interactions? Or am I contributing to an evolving community (and sub-communities) and moving into a new social structure establishing new dynamics of trust and protection as a result? Does it really matter? At this point in time, I’m going to share what I personally feel comfortable with – and nothing that I would not want repeated.




jumping into the information vortex!

5 thoughts on “Privacy Thresholds

  1. Andy Piper

    Another brilliant post, Jazz. So this brings into question the whole Declarative Living concept… the realisation that birthdays are now common knowledge (and that is a common piece of “private” data used for telephone ID, for instance) is an interesting one. I agree that it is a matter of degrees, though. I’m not in the business of disguising my identity and I reckon that online services make it increasingly difficult to do so, but there are limits to what I want to share “with the world”.

    Sorry, not a very coherent comment, it’s late here – I’ll post again if I have something useful to say…

  2. wonderwebby

    Hi Douglas nice to see you here. I hadn’t thought of it that way before “drowned out by the crowd”. I am finding the more I put into it the more I get out of it.
    Andy shucks and thanks. I think companies will have to change their ID strategies (not the other way around.) Phone number, birthdate etc won’t cut it anymore. Like the other day I rang about a credit account and I was asked two questions that were so obscure and nothing to do with birthdays that only I would know.
    I think the way it is heading…people will be demanding the ability to SHARE and organisations will need to have specific guidelines around trust and protection.

  3. Jen Okimoto

    Jasmin – I also tend to be of the drowned out by the crowd mindset. Yet, I had a blog stalker for awhile. I had to change my comments function so that I could approve all new comments because of him. I’m sure he was just a lonely person with too much time on his hands…yet, I found it creepy.

    I agree with Andy, I am not in the business of disguising my identify…and I do exercise (at least I try to) a modicum of discretion (unlike the kids who will post anything and everything).

    I don’t know though…the information vortex IS unchartered territory. Jen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *