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The Public Era

We live in an era where your business checks your Facebook page, your date searches for you on Google and your aunt wants to be friends with you on Farmville.  In this time of social networking –  and superfluous information –  it would seem that anything you say immediately reaches the whole world. Or at least the world you interact with.

And it does.  But will that have people clamoring for privacy?  For some, yes.  For others, not.  It seems society has a laissez-faire approach to privacy on social networks.  I’ve heard stories of persons losing their job, or a job opportunity because of  Facebook indiscretions.  Politicians and celebrities have faced criticisms because of a Facebook or Twitter status.  Even the latest “Facebook scandal” – it now has your status updates indexed by Google – doesn’t have people leaving that social network.

So if you Googled me,  what would you find?  Too much, I’m sure.  But what is privacy to this social networking world?  How can we set privacy settings without people being offended? It seems our thirst for instant knowledge has begun to be a ravenous consumption of personal information.   If you don’t tweet enough, “it’s just not worth it”.  Whether it is tweeting about the weather or reading about the latest economic movements,  we consume it as supplementary information.

But then, how does one in this Public Era keep things private? It is the popular thing to tell the world all your thoughts.  What does it mean if you keep some of those thoughts to yourself?

How do you live a private life while fully participating in this Public Era? Or do you set a proactive standard of privacy and understand you’re not “all in” when it comes to social network immersion?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


    • Simple.

      There is no privacy online, if you choose to be online. It’s binary: you use the Web, you forfeit your privacy.

  1. I think it’s entirely possible to maintain some privacy, even while enjoying many of the benefits of the social web.

    Just as with sharing any private information with anyone or anything, there are always risks of disclosure that you have to take into account. You first have to accept that there is a risk that things can go wrong and stuff you intend to be private can leak (through compromised servers and systems, or people who are untrustworthy or just don’t think before they post things that might involve you).

    But if you look at it in terms of building up your own network of trust — build up your own boundaries and rules — and then make sure the people who you trust with different bits of information understand and respect your rules (and ‘get’ how important they are to you), then I think it can be work.

    Personally, I actively manage all the information that I give out about me in all situations (online and off). The risks that I do take with that personal information are calculated ones, so I don’t find myself worrying about the potential for bad things to happen. I’m probably the exception rather than the rule — my personality dictates I usually think before I do — but that’s how I see this issue.

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