Privacy Is About Control, Not Anonymity

Seth Godin says you don’t really care about privacy:

“If you cared about privacy you wouldn’t have a credit card, because, after all, they know everything you spend money on. And you wouldn’t use the phone, because somewhere, there’s a computer scanning what you say.

What most of us care about is being surprised. You don’t want the credit card company to track where you’re staying and whether you’re buying flowers for someone you’re not even married to–and then send you a free coupon for STD testing…”

I think Seth missed the mark with this one. I don’t care if my credit card company, Amazon, Google or Facebook have my information. I don’t even care if they use it to target ads at me. You know what I want?

Control.

I want control over how companies use my information. I want to know that if I post a photo of someone online, and set it so that only my friends can see it, then ONLY my friends will see it (though I still maintain that if you’re not ok with everyone seeing your photos, then don’t post them online at all).

I don’t need to put on a tin foil hat and go off the grid in order to care about privacy. I just need confidence that I can control how my information is used, and the means to do so.

How about you?

18 comments
Tamar Levin
Tamar Levin

The ability to decide who is going to be exposed to my status updateds and what kind of information will be shared is something that already exists(FB privacy settings f.e), but i think that's only one part of what does privacy mean in the social media era. What bothers me is the question of ownership, that is the question of intellectual property. According to Mark Zuckerberg, FB is the owner, and we are only guests. That means that if for example i want to delete a picture of mine for whatever reason, it will still be saved over the company's servers.. SM users should certainly be aware of that, not to mention it's their own responsiblity for what kind of information they choose to share. Nevertheless, and when it comes to control, to ownership of your private data, we should all be aware that once it's out there in the net, it's no longer belongs to us. In that sense i would definetaly agree with Mr. Zuckerberg saying that privacy is dead: http://www.switched.com/2010/01/11/facebooks-mark-zuckerberg-claims-privacy-is-dead/ we are actually only guest, means, who owns the information/data in my FB profile,is it the user or the company. The answer for that according to Mark Zuckerberg is very clear: and the answer for that unfortunatly is in FB for example it takes want control over how companies use my information. I want to know that if I post a photo of someone online, and set it so that only my friends can see it, then ONLY my friends will see it (though I still maintain that if you’re not ok with everyone seeing your photos, then don’t post them online at all). I don’t need to put on a tin foil hat and go off the grid in order to care about privacy. I just need confidence that I can control how my information is used, and the means to do so. How about you?

Tamar Levin
Tamar Levin

The ability to decide who is going to be exposed to my status updateds and what kind of information will be shared is something that already exists(FB privacy settings f.e), but i think that's only one part of what does privacy mean in the social media era.

What bothers me is the question of ownership, that is the question of intellectual property. According to Mark Zuckerberg, FB is the owner, and we are only guests. That means that if for example i want to delete a picture of mine for whatever reason, it will still be saved over the company's servers..

SM users should certainly be aware of that, not to mention it's their own responsiblity for what kind of information they choose to share. Nevertheless, and when it comes to control, to ownership of your private data, we should all be aware that once it's out there in the net, it's no longer belongs to us. In that sense i would definetaly agree with Mr. Zuckerberg saying that privacy is dead:
http://www.switched.com/2010/01/11/facebooks-mark-zuckerberg-claims-privacy-is-dead/

we are actually only guest, means, who owns the information/data in my FB profile,is it the user or the company. The answer for that according to Mark Zuckerberg is very clear:

and the answer for that unfortunatly is

in FB for example it takes

want control over how companies use my information. I want to know that if I post a photo of someone online, and set it so that only my friends can see it, then ONLY my friends will see it (though I still maintain that if you’re not ok with everyone seeing your photos, then don’t post them online at all).

I don’t need to put on a tin foil hat and go off the grid in order to care about privacy. I just need confidence that I can control how my information is used, and the means to do so.

How about you?

Seiji Kato
Seiji Kato

True, privacy in this case means control. You want assurances that you arent about to have some nasty surprises. In the bank example, you want assurances that they wont do anything and that you can trust them to keep what you do between themselves and you.
Of course, on other matters (like the photos example), just dont post them on-line if you dont want anyone other than a select few to see them, simple as that :p

Seiji Kato
Seiji Kato

True, privacy in this case means control. You want assurances that you arent about to have some nasty surprises. In the bank example, you want assurances that they wont do anything and that you can trust them to keep what you do between themselves and you. Of course, on other matters (like the photos example), just dont post them on-line if you dont want anyone other than a select few to see them, simple as that :p

Stephen Webb
Stephen Webb

This is certainly a topic of the moment, as privacy is a key issue regarding the net at the moment. With Facebook frequently receiving criticism and being in the press regarding privacy issues it has become a hot topic.

What's rather concerning is that many companies don't make privacy control obvious enough, and the default settings are usually not the most private. There is a general lack of confidence in online security and privacy, and i'm sure this will have a detrimental effect on how the net develops.

Stephen Webb
Stephen Webb

This is certainly a topic of the moment, as privacy is a key issue regarding the net at the moment. With Facebook frequently receiving criticism and being in the press regarding privacy issues it has become a hot topic. What's rather concerning is that many companies don't make privacy control obvious enough, and the default settings are usually not the most private. There is a general lack of confidence in online security and privacy, and i'm sure this will have a detrimental effect on how the net develops.

Yacine Baroudi — @FasTake
Yacine Baroudi — @FasTake

Good take on this thorny issue.

If you really think about it, it doesn't make any difference because we don't really control how credit card companies use our data. Do you?

Bottom line for anyone is (as you said it yourself): if you don't want something to be seen online don't post it... and if you absolutely need to share stuff with friends, email them

Cheers!

Yacine Baroudi — @FasTake
Yacine Baroudi — @FasTake

Good take on this thorny issue. If you really think about it, it doesn't make any difference because we don't really control how credit card companies use our data. Do you? Bottom line for anyone is (as you said it yourself): if you don't want something to be seen online don't post it... and if you absolutely need to share stuff with friends, email them Cheers!

Maddie Grant
Maddie Grant

Heh - saw that Godin post this morning and thought the same thing. Though was really irritated me is his nonsensical point about Facebook. Nice post from Danny Brown above!

Maddie Grant
Maddie Grant

Heh - saw that Godin post this morning and thought the same thing. Though was really irritated me is his nonsensical point about Facebook. Nice post from Danny Brown above!

Stefano Maggi
Stefano Maggi

Good point, Dave.
Let's also remember that too much options and too little information mean *Less* control. Privacy controls that are too granular and / or difficult to use are actually useless and give the illusion of control. This, in part, gets us back to Seth's question: do we care about privacy? I think not many of us do. Many care about the illusion of control. I'm convinced that many - like you said - care about real control, too.

Stefano Maggi
Stefano Maggi

Good point, Dave. Let's also remember that too much options and too little information mean *Less* control. Privacy controls that are too granular and / or difficult to use are actually useless and give the illusion of control. This, in part, gets us back to Seth's question: do we care about privacy? I think not many of us do. Many care about the illusion of control. I'm convinced that many - like you said - care about real control, too.

Davina K. Brewer
Davina K. Brewer

Dave, I get what you and Seth are saying, don't think either of you have it wrong. IMHO Control is a myth. It's the illusion of control, the "faith" the the CC companies will follow the "rules" you believe exist to safeguard your privacy; the assumption that whatever you share on Facebook can only be seen by those you intend to see it.

If I was buying flowers for an extra-curricular fling I'd be paying cash to hide it, but I'm devious like that. I would of course be ticked at a CC for selling my name, look into all the opt-out, no-share options I could find. I too have lists on FB but still can't seem to manage the cross-over from page, posts, games, ads, etc.

What other people post and share about me, I can't control (other than try to withhold that intel). About the only thing I can control is ME. What I post on Twitter and Facebook. Hence I do know how to unfriend, untag, unfollow, block. FWIW.

Davina K. Brewer
Davina K. Brewer

Dave, I get what you and Seth are saying, don't think either of you have it wrong. IMHO Control is a myth. It's the illusion of control, the "faith" the the CC companies will follow the "rules" you believe exist to safeguard your privacy; the assumption that whatever you share on Facebook can only be seen by those you intend to see it. If I was buying flowers for an extra-curricular fling I'd be paying cash to hide it, but I'm devious like that. I would of course be ticked at a CC for selling my name, look into all the opt-out, no-share options I could find. I too have lists on FB but still can't seem to manage the cross-over from page, posts, games, ads, etc. What other people post and share about me, I can't control (other than try to withhold that intel). About the only thing I can control is ME. What I post on Twitter and Facebook. Hence I do know how to unfriend, untag, unfollow, block. FWIW.

Jen Zingsheim
Jen Zingsheim

Bingo. You nailed it--it's control over my information. How *I* want it used and distributed (or not).

Jen Zingsheim
Jen Zingsheim

Bingo. You nailed it--it's control over my information. How *I* want it used and distributed (or not).

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