Private Parts in Public Places

17 02 2010

Privacy is no longer a “social norm.” So says Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg also has said that if Facebook were created today, user information would be public by default, much like it is on Twitter.

These comments came during the “Crunchie Awards,” a show organized by popular blog TechCrunch to recognize the most talked-about and noteworthy Internet innovators of the year.

Newly overhauled privacy options on Facebook seem to be headed in that more public direction and Facebook users, notorious for hating change, are howling.

Similar howls were heard after massive re-designs of the social network’s interface in 2008 and 2009.

Many of the users’ arguments could be boiled down to, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

And, the Facebook privacy change is more significant than a simple re-design.

But who’s to say if it’s even reasonable to expect privacy on the Internet?

We’ve all heard the stories of employees being fired due to content placed on their social media pages—pages that are provided free of charge. Excellent example of no privacy on the Internet.

Lack of privacy is becoming more and more prevalent, if not always welcome.

Data collection services provide detailed personal information to anyone with a credit card with a few clicks of the mouse. Visual technology, such as the popular Google Earth service, lets anybody travel anywhere on Earth, often with richly-detailed “street level” views of a specific address.

Before mourning the loss of anonymity, remember that it works in positive ways, as well. For instance, it’s easier to keep in touch with acquaintances, colleagues, and organizations, and form lasting connections. For businesses and organizations, potential customers are more inclined to share and interact with such a group if they feel there is a human on the other end with whom they can form a relationship.

The Internet is becoming one ginormous small town. Everyone knows everyone else’s business. Feels like we’ve come full circle.