In asking twenty-somethings about online privacy, it’s pretty typical to get a response along the lines of “what privacy“. Young adults that are active social media consumers and creators are so used to their information being widely distributed that they often express a lack of concern about their privacy, because they take it for granted that they don’t have any.
I have also taken a similarly blithe attitude towards my own online privacy. As an online marketer, I want my presence spread across the web. As a buyer of online media, I have an understanding of the types of information that is being collected. However, a couple of events that occurred today have me a bit non-plussed. The first came from being logged into Linkedin. I was served up as a “people you may known” with the name of a contractor that I have not worked with in over three years. It’s likely that she at some point authorized Linkedin to scrape her e-mail address book. However, it was still sort of stunning to me to discover that Linkedin had uncovered a relationship that only consisted of a limited e-mail exchange from over 3 years ago
The second event that gave me pause about how much information from our social media profiles is being passed around occurred when I made a comment on a post on Weather.com. A link to my Facebook profile and my headshot popped up on the comment. While I want to increase my Facebook exposure to potential prospects and online marketers, I am not sure I want to increase it by that much to the entire Internet community (or at least the Weather.com audience).
While privacy advocates are up in arms about the loss of privacy, I’m not sure if the broader community of social media users will ever get too upset. There is a part of me that thinks “hey if the loss of control over how my profile is distributed bothers someone like me, it might really bother people that don’t an interest in increasing their online exposure”. On the other hand, most social media users seemingly couldn’t care less. Further, when on Weather.com, by being logged into Facebook at the time, it made it easy to post a comment without having to set-up a commenting profile or input a captcha code. Afterwards, I did go and check on my Facebook privacy settings, but ultimately did not make any changes. Thus, as long as there is a benefit trade off for giving up some of my privacy, I ultimately find it to be acceptable
The only sign I can find of a mass social media privacy backlash is the lack of traction for the new Google +1 button. Even on technology related sites, very few people are clicking on this latest Google attempt at social media. This could be a signal that folks have had enough of social inter connectivity and their loss of privacy. Time will tell whether it becomes a growing trend. However, I have not seen any other evidence of this becoming a trend. A check of “privacy” on Google Trends shows that searches for this term are trending down, even while articles about “privacy” are trending up.