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REPORT: Facebook and the New Age of Privacy

REPORT: Facebook and the New Age of Privacy

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Published by Brian Solis
It’s said that opposites attract. However, in social media, it’s quite the opposite. The idea of privacy and publicity are in fact at odds with one another. And at the heart of the matter, one social network is caught in the crossfire of sharing information and TMI (too much information). The line that separates privacy and openness remains undefined as it continues to shift as individuals learn important life lessons about the benefits and risks of living in public.
It’s said that opposites attract. However, in social media, it’s quite the opposite. The idea of privacy and publicity are in fact at odds with one another. And at the heart of the matter, one social network is caught in the crossfire of sharing information and TMI (too much information). The line that separates privacy and openness remains undefined as it continues to shift as individuals learn important life lessons about the benefits and risks of living in public.

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Published by: Brian Solis on Aug 30, 2010
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01/04/2011

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REPORT: Facebook and the New Age of Privacy
By Brian Solis, blogger at  BrianSolis.comand principal of  FutureWorks, Author of the new book 
Co-Author 
and  
It’s said that opposites attract. However, in social media, it’s quite the opposite. The idea of privacy and publicity are in factat odds with one another. And at the heart of the matter, one social network is caught in the crossfire of sharing informationand TMI (too much information). The line that separates privacy and openness remains undefined as it continues to shift asindividuals learn important life lessons about the benefits and risks of living in public.As we evolve into a more open society, the economic value of privacy has inverted. Years ago it was inexpensive tomaintain a sense of controlled solitude and expensive to earn public attention. Now the cost of publicnessis far lower thanthe expense of cultivating privacy.The state of privacy online, or perceived lack thereof, is consuming media headlines and status updates worldwide andwebwide. But what might appear to represent the sentiment of the people, may also in fact, represent media sensationalism.As you’ll see, conversations on Twitter regarding privacy fueled discourse and debate as well as awareness of the issue. Atthe heart of the privacy debate is Facebook and its ongoing series of changes to its privacy policy. ThislatestPeopleBrowsr  report examines the extent of Facebook privacy story between Facebook’s F8 conference in April 2010 and now.
The Privacy Woes of Facebook
Over the years, and at the behest of mainstream and new media, Facebook seemingly monopolized all conversationsrelated to privacy concerns. In 2007, Facebook introduced Beacon, an ad system that provided third-party websites with ascript that fed the activity of users back into Facebook feeds. After a very public backlash and a class action lawsuit,Facebook changed its stance.In December 2009, Facebook introduced a privacy overhaul that was met with immediate criticism. After a series of verypublic complaints, privacy rules were overhauled once again, this time with the input of its users. The examples continueand date back several years.However, on April 21st 2010 as the world watched, Facebook introduced us to its Open Graph at its F8 developer event inSan Francisco. The announcement was met with cheers and jeers, but what was clear, Facebook and its leader MarkZuckerberg, were leading us into a new, more public and open Web and way of life. Essentially, we were moving beyond thepoint of no return.
(cc) Brian Solis,www.briansolis.com- Twitter, @briansolis
 
The Open Graph is nothing short of a game changer, serving as a new platform that turns the 500 million user strong socialnetwork into a personalization engine and a fledging contextual network that connects relevant information, content andpeople. And now with the universality of “Likes” inside Facebook and around the Web, your Facebook persona and socialgraph becomes portable. The price? Your privacy is traded for openness. The benefits? A living searchable Web that’spersonalized to you and your contacts and those topics that interest you.By placing the power of “Likes” within clicking distance, users can literally set the foundation for the content and people towhich they’re introduced in Facebook and at partner sites. Hyperlinks are becoming peoplelinks.For those who were reluctant to say “ah” to the opening of the social graph, they were forced to manually dam the rivers thatcarried personal information into the social stream. Users deemed it too difficult to do so, and as such, Facebook simplifiedthe process for erecting walls between you, your activity and relationships, and the rest of the Web. But, because Facebookputs its users in control of privacy, what they see and what they share is wholly defined by their user settings. The moreopen the preferences the more friends within the social graph see and learn about you. Additionally, it’s how Facebook andFacebook’s outside partners personalize your experience. However, you are in control of the impressions that others formas well as the level of customized information and content you see in Facebook and outside apps and networks.
 Searching Public Conversations to Research Privacy
There’s an aura of irony here in researching online privacy and using a very open information network to analyze publicconversations. While the content studied here is based on subject matter and not tied to individuals per se, one can expectthat public profiling in social networks will soon soar. In many ways, we are already seeing the results of personalizedmarketing and advertising and the improvement of products and services based on the choice words and sentiments sharedby like-minded groups and influential individuals online.Twitter is a unique beast when it comes to social media. It is a network that’s not only open, but indexed by the searchengines and open to APIs. Your profile, updates, and your social graph or as Twitter refers to it, your “interest graph,” isopen for analysis and perception freely or for the price of admission set forth by third-party developers who house this data.Twitter COO Dick Costolo once stated that Twitter avoided privacy concerns and discussions as people registered for theservice with a full understanding that their conversations took place in a very public and visible forum. While true, I’d arguethat as individuals take to social media to broadcast their observations and experiences, they are learning the true meaningof privacy and going public as they go.Judging by the numbers, Costolo is indeed right. Twitter users aim their attention at Facebook when discussing privacy andnot Twitter.
 Privacy by the Numbers
Working with PeopleBrowsr, we studied the number of Tweets that flew across Twitter referencing privacy or relatedkeywords dating back just prior to the now infamous F8 conference.
(cc) Brian Solis,www.briansolis.com- Twitter, @briansolis
 
Prior to the event on April 24th, privacy Tweets hovered between 1,000 to 3,000 references per day mostly in anticipation of the much-rumored changes to Facebook’s public policy. On the day of F8, privacy emerged as a focal point of many onlinecomments, cries, and reactions, spiking to almost 9,000 in a single day.As the event itself drew to a close, privacy discussions raged on, but at varying levels. On April 25th, privacy-related Tweetsfell sharply to 3,500 only to surge the very next day to just under 7,500 when politicians joined the fray. Four senators sent aletter to Facebook demanding that the company refrain from “opting in” users to new information-sharing features and toprovide easier ways to control what information is shared and to whom. Congressman Rick Boucher, chairman of the HouseSubcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet led the draft of a new privacy bill to find a balance betweenprivacy protection and the ability for online companies to introduce targeted advertising based on behavior and publicinformation shared in the network.As a result of government intervention, privacy-related Tweets escalated once again toward 9,000.What’s clear, going back to the day when privacy took center stage, the media sensationalized the topic, but consumers, atleast those on Twitter, did not flood the streets with 140 character picket signs. 9,000 tweets do not seem to account for themillions of Twitter users or the 500,000 million people who have Facebook accounts.
(cc) Brian Solis,www.briansolis.com- Twitter, @briansolis

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