With ReadWriteWeb Marshall Kirkpatrick on a roll today about Mark Zukerburg and the end of the age of privacy, with follow up from Steven Hodson (fixed) it is time to look not just at Facebook, but at other tools that are out there than can also alter your personal privacy landscape.
While I think that there are something’s that I do that are private, like Steven Hodges I think there are limits to what I will post online and where I will post it. There are a lot of things that I know or do that will never see the light of day on Facebook, in a Blog, or otherwise be exploited online. The things that I do personally expose are those things that I am proud of, or things that I do that I am not particularly worried about if anyone finds out. We should all be aware that what we put online is forever, and can dramatically lessen or improve your chances of being hired.
What is a counterpoint to all this is a little observed post from Louis Gray over the weekend about a spanking new toy called Searchtastic. It is specifically designed to look for tweets on keywords that you are looking for, and identifies the people talking about it. In a lot of ways this is as equally interesting as “Tweeting too hard” or “People of Walmart” or anything else that is online that we laugh at or scorn and mock in so many ways. When I run a search on where I work, it is very easy to mine Twitter looking for recent comments about what is being said about the school.
It is also very interesting who is talking about my Tagline especially after mentioning Twitter Marketing Hell by Steven Hodson.
What is even more interesting is when I type in something that would be generally frowned upon in polite society. If I was a cop I would love this, if I was a social researcher – I would love this just as much. I would love the excel export feature even more.
It is amazing what we say online anyway, without thinking about it. It is not so much that privacy is at an end, or that we should not do things that we would do anyways. It is more about how we treat the internet and what we say online than anything else. While everyone had a fit over what Sergey Brin said about Privacy on Google – the sad realization is that privacy really hasn’t been something that we have been able to count on for a long time.
Some of the new tools like Searchtastic, deep mining of Google information, court house records online, People Search databases, and electronic records of all kinds are all searchable. All of these can be used to paint a profile of whom we are, who we associate with and what we think is important. This is of use to everyone who has even a passing voyeuristic impulse in finding out anything about anyone. Especially if they are posting it online themselves, there is little guilt here in using that information in ways they might not expect, from the state to the federal government, law enforcement, or even just the casual passerby.
While all of this is important, what is more important is to educate people on what they are doing, starting in elementary school. Show them that the internet is forever, that the electronic footprints you leave behind can and will be used to form an opinion of you (and in some cases could cost you your job or future job) and what you do. If you do things on line that are socially not acceptable, then expect to pay the price of that social stigma.
The point we need to realize is that it is not just one system, privacy is not about Facebook, privacy is not about Google, Searchtastic or any other way that we can mine the internet for information. The problem of Privacy is about us, as people, and the image that we think is cool to portray. That is where we need to start, not beating on companies, but informing ourselves to make better decisions. In the mean time – check out Texts from Last Night – more things that should never be said.
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(Cross-posted @ TechWag)