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The Implications of a Facebook Society 226

Posted by Zonk
from the you-could-just-not-put-stuff-on-there dept.
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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The Implications of a Facebook Society

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  • by srollyson (1184197) * on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:27AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      ... or people need to start using pgp /gpg, and social networking platforms need to incorporate such technology more transparently into their sites.
    • by djasbestos (1035410) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:35AM (#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.
      • by peragrin (659227) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:54AM (#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
      • by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @12:00PM (#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...
        • by Fred_A (10934)

          Perhaps the operating motto should be "data leaks happen". If you want limited visibility to some event, spread the news in a limited fashion.

          There are two concepts here. One is getting into the public mind that "shit happens" which may or may no have gotten through (if they've gotten it maybe they're just into fucking stuff up for the money, given the amount of legal action based on "shit happens" that has taken place).

          The other is that if Jane leaks her kinky pics to Joe, they could very well end up on a P2P network and from there on Usenet either because Joe can't setup his P2P software or because he's just being naughty. People, just like th

      • by Petey_Alchemist (711672) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @02:51PM (#21258245) Homepage
        There is a great book about this called "The Unwanted Gaze" by Harvard Professor Jeffrey Rosen. He gives many examples about how incomplete context can negatively shape otherwise innocuous information.

        The easy, kneejerk answer is DON'T POST IT ON THE INTERNET IF YOU DON'T WANT IT TO BE SEEN! But that is too simplistic an answer to a complex social problem.

        American privacy law revolves around the idea, proposed by Brandeis and articulated by the Court in Katz, that it is the "expectation of privacy" that users have that determines how much privacy they are accorded.

        When I post to an open thread on Slashdot, I have no expectation of privacy, other than obscurity, and that's not defensible. No one seriously argues that open fora have a high expectation of privacy (although you can make a contextual argument; if I'm "obviously" trolling Slashdot, or making an ironic post, the community may understand my post to mean one thing while an outside observer takes it another way. Look at the 4chan bomb scare or the GNAA. But that's not about privacy, that's about incomplete information.)

        But let's say I have a Facebook with my privacy settings turned all the way up. Colleague A is my Facebook friend because they know me well and I decide to give them access to my information. Now, if I have all these privacy settings turned on, and I trust Colleague A, don't I have some expectation of privacy on my "public" Facebook?

        I'd say yes. But what happens when Boss B threatens Colleague A to let him read my Facebook? I didn't extend access rights to him. In fact, I took affirmative steps to deny such access. Doesn't that go against my expectation of privacy?

        It's an extreme example, but the kneejerkers who just say LOL YOU POSTED ON THE INTERNET IDIOT are ignoring the larger social and legal framework that these networks operate under.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          ...and one more thing:

          If you actually watched the video, Shirky--who is a great guy, by the way--talks about how malls are public places too. But if you went around a mall with a boom microphone, recording the conversations of people near you, people would think you were NUTS, and might even sue you for invading their privacy. Why? Not because they're not in public, but because we have a social understanding that when you're in a crowd, people might hear what you have to say but they don't record it and the
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kieran (20691)
      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 p
      • by Silver Sloth (770927) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:51AM (#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.
        • by kieran (20691)
          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.
    • by CheechBG (247105)
      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 disseminati
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by plague3106 (71849)
        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. Althoug
        • by egburr (141740)
          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 ma
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by plague3106 (71849)
            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 persona
            • by cayenne8 (626475)
              "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)."

              While agree that what an employee does on his own time SHOULD be 100% none of the employer's business, in reality, that is just NOT the case. I mean, we have employers out there firing people if they are caught smoking cigarettes for goodness sakes. And this is a perfectly legal activity!!

              The

            • by egburr (141740)
              Yeah, I only named two. How many would be sufficient for you? Those were examples of types of jobs where it mattered, and both of those examples have a very large number of people employed across the country. As for the size of the city, how large does the city have to be before it becomes a non-issue? I live in a city with a population of 106,000, and my wife often encounters people that she met through her job and who she has to maintain her on-the-job behavior for, sometimes once every week or two, somet
      • by KiahZero (610862)
        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.
    • by ByOhTek (1181381)
      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.
      • by cromar (1103585)
        The flip-side of that is that there could be some unforeseen selection and the human race will have to become drunken Facebook users to survive...
    • by ZombieWomble (893157) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:53AM (#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.

      • by MoneyT (548795) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:58AM (#21255891) Journal
        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.
        • "If two people know, it's not a secret." If you tell someone else about something, it is no longer a total secret. So, how restricted that information stays depends on how trustworthy the person you tell is. So you need to limit who you tell things to and do things with. I have some friends that know a whole lot about me, things I wouldn't like made public. However I'm ok with that, because I trust these people to keep that information private, much as they trust me to keep similar things about them private
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Digital Vomit (891734)

          Wouldn't a simpler solution be to stop socializing?

          This is Slashdot, after all...

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          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.

          This is true, but Facebook, Myspace and others provide a really simple means for people to upload photos and associate them with email addresses or real names. They are a data harvester's dream.

          Trying to tell some of the (I'll hesitate to use the word I want) lesser savvy users why I don't want them putting my real name, anything about me or pho

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Wes Janson (606363)
          Oh, right, because it's perfectly reasonable that gp must go to every single person who knows his/her name, and politely ask them never to post pictures of them on Facebook/Myspace/etc, or to ever mention their names on the internet. Most normal people would not respond well to requests like that, and most people aren't going to make such requests, even if they value privacy, specifically because of the social repercussions of acting paranoid. There is a distinct trade-off for most people between sacrific
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mgblst (80109)
        To be fair, I could upload pictures of you onto a website, and link them with your name. Next time someone searches for you in Google, these will come up. This is a far worse situation for you than being linked to on facebook.

        And one can just imagine what sort of photos someone called Zombie Womble would have.
      • by TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @01:20PM (#21256937)

        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.
        You're not on Facebook -- this is why you don't understand how it works, but you have recourse here. You can join Facebook, maintain a very small friends list, and set your profile to be unreadable by anybody else. Then you can change your privacy settings so that photos tagged of you are only visible to those on your friends list. This affects even photos tagged of you taken by other people. That way even if one of your friends decides to make their profile public, any photos they tag of you submit to YOUR privacy settings, not theirs. And since they can always see their own photos, they probably will not even notice that you have restricted their material to YOUR friends list. You don't even have to log in to maintain this privacy barrier -- any future photos that are tagged with your name submit to the same privacy settings. You can even go in and tag the photos with your own name yourself so that they WILL submit to your privacy settings. Facebook is not like Myspace -- it's very much better thought through, and much more private by default. In fact I find them to be completely opposite in their core approaches. People who say Facebook/Myspace in one breath generally don't get it.
      • by discord5 (798235)

        There is the potential that it may be possible to extract a non-trivial amount of information on a person simply from their associations with others.

        Isn't that what your parents told you when you were little when they said "He's a bad influence" ? Sorry for butchering your post, but I think that sort of applies. If you asociate with a drugdealer, people are going to assume you're somehow connected to drugs.

    • 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.
    • by keithjr (1091829)
      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 no
    • by Fred_A (10934)
      What about the silent people who aren't on myface, Orkbook or whatever, don't even get the point of posting "mood : pouty" on the web (i.e. are above 14 yr old) ?

      I've been on the web since there actually *was* a web, and on the networks as they were, the Internet and X25 and the BBSs for a number of years before that, and I *still* don't get the point of Facebook.

      There are quite a number of people I know that can't look at MySpace without having their eyes watering (the googles, they do nothing !) so I pres
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by R2.0 (532027)
      I think the discussion would be enlightened by distinguishing between "privacy" and "anonymity".

      A "private" act or utterance is, in and of itself, hidden. The universe of people who know about it, and the identity associated with it, is limited and controlled.

      An "anonymous" act or utterance is PUBLIC, but the identity associated with it is hidden. So, when "True Colors", by Anonymous, was published, the Whole World knew that there was a person who had access to all this private info about the Clintons, bu
  • by xC0000005 (715810) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:30AM (#21255525) Homepage
    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.
    • 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.

      Thi
      • by Billosaur (927319) *

        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

        • by garcia (6573)
          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 workin
      • 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 would be surprised if more than a handful of senior employees and/or IT staff have the server access required to directly view information about individual users. Well, maybe not too surprised. More like dismayed, I guess.
    • 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.
    • 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 or
      • 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.
    • 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
    • Don't want something known widely? Don't post it on a public web site.

      There are a lot of comments similar to this, and also ones such as "I don't join Facebook because I don't want to be involved".

      However, if you have friends who are on Facebook, then welcome to the party, you are now involved. I have signed onto Facebook in order to keep an eye on what other people are posting about me. Your friends could have dozens of compromising pictures of you from your last drunken rampage, embarassing moment, or som
  • by VorpalEdge (967279) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:31AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rik Sweeney (471717)
      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]
      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        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?
    • by Billosaur (927319) *

      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 thi

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:31AM (#21255537)
    But I have a feeling someone is watching!

    *gasp*
  • Egregious nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Angst Badger (8636) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:32AM (#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: (Score:2, Funny)

      by physicsboy500 (645835)
      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!"
    • by TheViewFromTheGround (607422) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:48AM (#21255765) Homepage
      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.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by R2.0 (532027)
        "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 e
      • ...I am forced to use a privately-owned network...

        A government-owned and mandated social network is something you're totally cool with then?
        • A government-owned and mandated social network is something you're totally cool with then?

          There is a such a thing as a commons, and public space. Public space is not exactly government-owned in many traditional theories of property -- it is owned by some definition of the "public" and is regulated on the public's behalf by the government.

      • by retro128 (318602)

        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.
        If the only way they want to talk to you is through a site full of attention whores, are they REALLY your friends?

  • by Grandiloquence (1180099) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:35AM (#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.
    • "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!
  • ... 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

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:42AM (#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.
    • Baby/bathwater (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kieran (20691)
      "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 ot
    • by vertinox (846076)
      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.

      Are you so sure? What is stopping friends, relatives, and enemies from posting pictures of you on any of those sites.
      • There aren't any pictures of me that I'd mind having public. My friends are the kind of people who don't take photographs of ourselves doing stupid things. Someone could certainly post pictures but they'd be nothing I'd mind, or that you probably couldn't get with a public records search.

        Also, friends, real friends, are nice in the fact that usually if you ask them to do something for you, they will. If a friend posted something and I asked them to take it down, I have full faith they would.
    • by Goalie_Ca (584234)
      Also.. you need to have an understanding with your friends, friends friends, or random people you met about posting certain images as well. See.. these photos can also be "tagged" with your name and everything.
  • "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
  • 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]
  • 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 /.?
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • My personal believe is that every person should work and live as openly as practically possible.

      Whatever happened to "Trust No One"? Has the X-Files truly been purged from the post 9-11 mind? Wither Richelieu and his six lines in the hand of an honest man. Is it that people have become so paranoid and neurotic that they feel an overwhelming desire to prove their conformity? Are people just blind, or are they consciously trying to prove they have nothing to hide.

      You need to get blackmailed. It'll work wonder

  • 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 b
  • Stupid. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by igotmybfg (525391) <slashdotNO@SPAMdanielthompson.net> on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @12:17PM (#21256141) Homepage
    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 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kscguru (551278) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @12:22PM (#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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Don't use Facebook! If you like privacy, don't put your private life online! I think this is less about the "erosion" of privacy than it is about people simply caring less about sharing things that would have formerly kept to themselves. One of my buddies was telling me about how someone added him to their friend list (or whatever) the other day:

    Friend: Remember that girl I hooked up with in New Zealand? She added me to her Facebook the other day.
    Me: Hot.
    Friend: Yeah I wouldn't have remembered who she was but in her message she wrote "Hey remember me we hooked up in New Zealand!"
    Me: And the whole world can see that?
    Friend: Sure!
    Me: Weird.

    That's about the whole issue, in a nutshell. You either find things like that completely disturbing... or you're fine with it. Some of us take comfort in anonymity

  • I notice that Facebook seems to cause more controversy on Slashdot, probably because unlike Myspace, it is possible to use it without getting a headache.

    But the thing with Facebook and privacy is, the information I divulge on there isn't exactly going to compromise me. The fact that my Political Views are "Other", that I am a decent but not good Scrabble player, and that I am in a relationship set me apart (although, as the wags would have it, the last would make me fairly unique on Slashdot). I just don't
  • It's my observation that there are two types of users of Facebook. Some of my friends put every tidbit of data about themselves that the site asks for. Their highschool, college, employer, age, religion, sexual preference, relationship, photos, favourite shows, books, who they are related to, etc, etc. It builds a pretty extensive profile of them. These are usually the people who never look at the privacy options to tighten them up and make their profile info available only to their friends. So all their in
  • Great site (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mantrid (250133) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @03:30PM (#21258707) Journal
    One always needs to keep in mind that whatever you put on these internet sites could be seen, copied, and used in any way imaginable by virtually anyone. Keeping that in mind, I really like Facebook as it's really allowed me to connect with old college friends etc (from like 15 years ago), as well as other old acquaintances, and current friends. The friend of friends thing is awesome and is probably what makes facebook so addictive and useful. Pretty hard to find the right John Smith, but if that John Smith knows your old friend Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo, then odds are much better it's the right one. It's almost viral, every time I add a new friend within a few days I seem to get more friend invites.

    Oddly I also seem to use it as a sort of secondary email system with some of my friends (probably because they are using Facebook so much also).
  • by CristalShandaLear (762536) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @04:39PM (#21259691) Homepage Journal
    '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. Reminds of a sitcom episode - I think Boy Meets World or Growing Pains. No it was Blossom. Joey, Blossom's goofy brother, gets caught cheating on a test. So he spends all this time trying to find undetectable ways to cheat. He finally decides to hide the answers in the one place only he can look and that the teachers can't see - in his mind. We are perfectly capable of keeping things private if we choose to do so. The problem I have is when other people give up their privacy, or maybe even a piece of their privacy - and that is used as an argument for that person to surrender their remaining privacy or for everyone else to surrender their privacy as well. We all have the right to determine what is private for ourselves.

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

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