There is no such thing as privacy on social networks

The Four Headed Monster - The Anti-Social MediaI’m so sick of arguing about privacy online and what social network has the best privacy features.

It doesn’t matter how much you lock things down. It doesn’t matter how many privacy settings you and your social network of choice have.

There is no such thing as online privacy.

At the end of the day, you’re agreeing to sign up to use a website and agree to what they say. As long as they own that website and its features, they are in control. When you create that profile on Google+ or Facebook, you’re giving them information about you. No matter how much of a stink your raise, until you delete your account and close your contract, it’s their information to use.

We live in the information age. Information is the new currency. Information is power. The ability to create, consume, manipulate and remix information defines the skills of our age. And the networks, brands, and people with information are the ones who will rule this age.

This is why Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are so powerful. The sheer amount of information and data contained in their servers are what will make the kings and queens of this decade.

So whatever you post, regardless of the privacy settings, if it’s in a circle, or locked on a website with no visitors, has power. Someone out these is figuring out a way to mine that data into your next purchasing decision. Their trying to figure out how to influence you or your friends.

And they don’t care if something is private. They’ll use it against you to make a quick dollar.

So social networks may be free, but we give up our precious information. That’s the price we pay to be social.


22 Responses to There is no such thing as privacy on social networks

  1. Mich October 31, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    Amen! Privacy and the Internet just don’t go together. If you are so worried about privacy, don’t use a computer! And If you are so worried about your privacy, why get onto SOCIAL networks to start with? Great post 🙂

    • Jay October 31, 2011 at 10:45 am #

      Who needs computers? I write this blog by hand.

  2. Shane October 31, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    In the following years our definition of privacy will change. The past generations fear of sharing information will subside while the new generations demand for transparency will become the new norm.

    • Jay October 31, 2011 at 10:47 am #

      Transparency is overrated. I really don’t need to know when you checked into the Brazilian waxing salon.

    • Claire Wagner October 31, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

      Says the guy with no photo. ;>)

      • Jay October 31, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

        Even if he had a photo, how would we know it’s him?

  3. Victor Canada October 31, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Jay, I’ve taught my students to assume anything they post will appear on the national news. For some, that’s an exciting prospect. For others not so much. The good news is, that it is in the best interest of these social networks to keep us signed up and posting so they are working feverishly to avoid a major breach of trust. We’ll see what happens.

    • Jay October 31, 2011 at 10:48 am #

      In my opinion, they’re working feverishly to make it as confusing as possible for average people.

  4. Matthew October 31, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    A secret shared, isn’t a secret. If you share with one person (what a lonely circle that would be), that one person can screenshot and post all over the Internet. The only place things are private are in your thoughts, unless you have a bad tell.

    • Jay October 31, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

      Reminds me of the Joseph Conrad story, the secret sharer.

  5. Camilo Olea October 31, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    Yeah, I think Scott McNealy said it more than a decade ago:

    “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”

    Or something. And that’s really it. The only people that can get privacy online are super smart nerds that use software to encrypt everything they send and receive.

    Happy Halloween!

    • Jay October 31, 2011 at 11:29 am #

      Richard Stallman is the last person with any privacy on the internet.

      • Camilo Olea October 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

        Exactly. Him, and the cranky old dude that was in that movie with will smith about being monitored by the state or something in the 90’s.

        • Paper Bag Writer December 9, 2011 at 12:36 am #

          OK, I’ll save you the depleting energy expense of typing “Enemy of the State” into Google or IMDb and tell you, that “cranky old dude” was none other than the legendary Gene Hackman. (That’s his real name; it has nothing to do with playing the role of a man who “hacks.”)

          Strange that you picked out the Fresh Prince of Bel-Airheads by name and not a truly talented legend of the cinema. But I guess that’s what this era is all about, gettting jiggy and shooting aliens on Co-Dependents Day and whatnot.

          But back to the discussion at hand: The hell I’ll ever use social networks, and believe me, I NEVER use my real name when commenting online. (I’m also of the age that would think this is odd, by the way.) Oh, and Stallman is a Trekkie UFO-tard and an unhygienic Asspee who needs a haircut and a gastric bypass. He and his worthless ilk, including Mark O’The Beast Suckerturd who, ironically, was born in Orwell’s ominous year of Big Brother (the real one on the calendar), are the ones who’ve created this transparent culture in which not sharing every bit of minutiae about your daily habits is actually considered rude. All of them, including Cerberus at the Gates and the Veep Creep who “invented” digital manure, can go “byte” the devil’s binary bits in DLL hell.

          If thought crime is death, then the Internet really is the answer to immortality, the universe and everything. Unless the reverse is true: you don’t think, therefore you are not? In any event, in terms of privacy, security, and improving the condition of human nature, I award the Web no points, and may Anonymous have mercy on our souls.

          • Camilo Olea December 20, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

            I want a hit of whatever this dude is smoking. Please.

  6. Steve Hughes October 31, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Working on a similar piece. After hearing about Klout and its privacy issues the last 4-5 days this is refreshing. If you want to play the “game” leave your privacy concerns at the door. If you are worried about your kids on a Social Network then don’t let them register. It really is that simple.

    • Jay October 31, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

      I worry about the kids who will grow up with no sense of knowing what private communication is.

      • Rowan Thorpe November 14, 2011 at 8:18 am #

        Yes, Jay nailed the most important point here. My biggest worry is that the developing generation will be incrementally brainwashed into a new ant-like mentality, and find it harder and harder to envisage why true privacy is sometimes essential. This is similar to how so many people who are raised heavily religious and become atheist much later in life reply to questions about it to the effect that they took that long to “realise I even had a real choice”, despite being intelligent/discerning people in many cases, due to the heavily subconsciously embedded habits…

      • Paper Bag Writer December 9, 2011 at 12:40 am #

        They don’t even think private parts are private anymore.

  7. Gary Pai November 1, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    Yeah, that is true but as long as you are not leaving your personal credit information then I guess you are fine with all these information giving out. Unless someone wants to stalk you and hack into the system of the social networks that you use. Lots of marketing firms get information about lots of their consumers. Social network could be one of the sources that they get you information from, anyway, they are trying to make profits on the stuff they have….

  8. gamification on mobile social applications November 2, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    Absolutely! The only privacy we get to set is merely to deter interference from the public. But since we already input our info in their system, how much can we actually protect? To exchange for access into the network, we have to put in these information. Even if we abandon the platform totally, our information will still be there.

  9. Sydney @ Social Dynamics November 2, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    Which is why before you sign up for anything, you should ask yourself if you’re comfortable in giving out your data to a particular site. I rarely use my social accounts, cause I almost always conscious of how I sound to my friends or followers.lols