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Privacy, conspiracy, and digital breadcrumbs

Posted by Susan Scrupski on June 8, 2007

Ironically, I was blithely Twittering about my day this morning and directed a note for Luis Suarez (a fine blogging machine, that guy!) that it freaks me out to see my “tweats” on his blog. Luis broadcasts his friends’ Twitter posts on his blog ’round the clock. It reminded me of a statement I’ve been saying lately which I will now publish so I can claim it: “In the future, we’ll all have 15 minutes of privacy.”

In the din of Twitter chatter, somehow we got around to Facebook and Luis said he would not sign up and pointed me to this site. Okay. I see his point. But should we really be afraid of Facebook? If I wanted to think about it, I’d be more afraid of IBM than I am of Facebook, quite frankly. And I didn’t really research this. But, I’ve been around gigundo government contractors long enough to know the U.S. government has got my number– all of them. Nothing is private and a hacker can expose the small graveyard of skeletons (turned crematory for space-saving) in my closet from any corner of the world 24/7. As a believer in the light side, the beneficial side, of the interconnected digital neighborhood, I will surrender some personal information so Diet Coke can know who I am. After all, it may help some struggling start-up launch a product that will make my life easier. And I can continue “hooking up” with my digital friends which may someday include Luis on Facebook.

But, I agree. The decision should not be taken lightly and is a personal one.

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4 Responses to “Privacy, conspiracy, and digital breadcrumbs”

  1. Hi Susan! Thanks much for the plug and the kind comments. And for sharing such an interesting blog post on a somewhat controversial topic: i.e. online privacy. While I have been reading your blog post, I must confess that to me it is not an issue to be afraid of Facebook nor of IBM for that matter (hehe, at least, the latter I know it a little bit!). To me it is a question of principles. The reason why I am not on Facebook just yet and, why if I ever get to it I would have a rather empty profile, is because the type of questions to build up my profile are on subjects that for a number of years I have decided never to share in an online space. Examples like religion, politics, for instance, are stuff that for someone may sound rather trivial and very willing to put forward. In my case, they are not. Perhaps because of my opinions on both.
    So when confronted with a profile page asking me those questions, it just puts me off right away, because I feel that’s none of their business to know stuff that I have decided long time ago to just keep it for real life. If people would want to know some more on those subjects they would have to wait till we meet face to face. Online I learned my lessons many years ago and they just create more trouble than help out: politics, religion and sports, of course!
    And what is the point of having a Facebook profile if most of the fields are empty? Errr, none, in my view. And why ever since I bumped into it many many moons ago it clearly reminded me of Orkut, which is the reason why I have stayed from it all along as well.
    You know me already quite well, and probably realise that I am quite open to a whole bunch of stuff and share that on the Internet, but there are some subjects that should remain for real life and if an online app. is asking for them they are going to repeatedly get the same answer from me. So yes, I may eventually join Facebook, but be prepared to see an empty one 😉 heh

  2. Hey Luis. My bad. I misinterpreted the link you sent more as paranoia than your excellent defense of your own online principles regarding personal orientation toward maybe sex preference, politics, religion… I know my Mom taught me a long time ago these are things we do NOT discuss in polite company (!) So, yes, you have an excellent point.
    But this is where it gets interesting. In a digital democracy, transparency rules. The more we get to know each other, via Twitter, blog posts, Second Life– our true selves are revealed– whether intentional or not. And the diversity of the mosaic is what makes the whole beautiful, no?
    For instance, I clearly state on Facebook I am a Liberal. I do it because my politics will emerge over time– I can’t possibly “hide” it. However, there is a lot of tolerance in the web community we’re running with. For instance, my fearless leader, Steve Papermaster, is a friend of George and Laura Bush, and actually works on a committee in Washington for him. In the words of that wise NY diplomat, Jerry Seinfield, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!!,” it doesn’t make me “hate” my boss. I love my boss! He’s a brilliant guy, and he inspires me. We just vote on different sides of the aisle. That’s our right in a free society. A right I cherish.
    So, in the end this conversation transcends Facebook and Diet Coke and IBM’s relationship with the CIA, but hey– I wish I could have a cocktail with you at the Enterprise 2.0 party we’re having Tuesday night and we could have a laugh over this brave, new world…

  3. Someone just pointed out I was pointing to the wrong site. It was this site http://www.albumoftheday.com/facebook/ Luis pointed me to. Sheesh. I’ve done that a few times in the past month, now– broke a cardinal law of proper blogging– check your links before you publish. More important than spelling and grammar. I think Tweats are Tweets, too. Eek. Hey viva la revolución para amateurs.

  4. Hi Susan! Thanks much for adding further up into the discussion. Lots of great stuff in here!

    "I know my Mom taught me a long time ago these are things we do NOT discuss in polite company (!)"

    Yes, indeed, your mom is a wise woman, I tell you, heh. Right, that is exactly what I meant. Those who know me in real life know that I have got very strong opinions on a number of different subjects, i.e. politics, religion and sports, so I have always felt it is kind of hard of letting those opinions out in the loose and get a message across without getting some more controversy along those lines. In most cases the chances are they would create more trouble than help out. So I have always managed to stay away from them. Regardless. If someone would want to know what I would think about those they would have to wait till we meet up in real life and then I tell you, you would be able to see where I am coming from 😉 hehe
    I certainly agree with your comments about transparency and, of course, I agree with it big time! I have been blogging for about four years now and in all that time it has become a constant principle of mine to be transparent in what I would have to share, if I would want to build up longer, more trustworthy relationships. But it is also true that I appreciate my own privacy in such an public world like the Internet is today. And like I mentioned above, there are some things you would want to share and others where you would want to keep them private. And still be transparent about the whole thing.
    I wish I would be able to make it to Enterprise 2.0, but, unfortunately, I am not sure I would be able to. Other conflicts are on the way, but one thing for sure is that whenever we get a chance to meet face to face we would be looking into this blog post and enjoy that diversity and digital democracy you mentioned above. Can’t wait for that to happen!

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