My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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SNS visibility norms (a response to Scoble)

A few days ago, I lamented the tech crowd’s Facebook fetish. Scoble raised the bar by responding to all of my nitpicks. Now, it’s my turn again. Tehehe.

I think that Scoble summed it all up perfectly with this:

“But what I don’t understand is why so much of the tech crowd who lament Walled Gardens worship Facebook.” Because there isn’t anything better. It’s like why we are so gaga over the iPhone. The iPhone is locked up tight and doesn’t let us play. But it is so superior to the alternatives that we’ll put up with all the walls.

He’s totally right. And what he’s really saying is that I should recognize and accept the hypocrisy within the tech crowd. They will happily say one thing loudly, but if the cool new glittery toy that they want has major failings, they’ll bite – hook, line, and sinker. I’m not convinced that FB is “so superior to the alternatives,” but I totally see how it plays into the values and aesthetics of the tech crowd. Maybe we should start calling FB (and other tech toys) “Precious”? And then we can run around in demented voices saying “One tool to rule them all!” ::giggle:: (OK, that’s probably not funny, but it’s late and I’m entertaining myself here.)

Anyhow… what I really want to address was a realization wrt visibility that I had while reading Scoble. In writing my earlier post, I was thinking primarily of teens when I was talking about visibility. Scoble points out that he really WANTS to be super visible, searchable on Google, etc. And he references the career-minded college students who will relish said visibility. This made me think about the different factors at play when it comes to visibility on social network sites.

MySpace started out as PUBLIC PUBLIC PUBLIC. They only added privacy features when they welcomed 14 and 15-year olds and for a while, you had to lie and say you were 14 to get a private profile. While the teen crowd was not using MySpace as a hyperpublic platform, artists were. They wanted to be as public as possible, to get as many fans as possible, to SEE and BE SEEN. This wasn’t just the story of musicians… even semi-porn divas like Forbidden and Tila were all about being hyperpublic and there were certainly teens who thought they’d be the next American Idol or Top Model by being found on MySpace. There are folks who want to leverage the platform to be the object of everyone’s gaze. As it expanded, MySpace received unbelievable pressure to add privacy options, to protect its users (both young and old). Even though a MS Friends-only profile is about as private as you can get, MySpace is constantly shat on for being dangerous because of exposure.

Facebook differentiated itself by being private, often irritatingly so. Hell, in the beginning Harvard kids couldn’t interact with their friends at Yale, but that quickly changed. Teens and their parents worship Facebook for its privacy structures, often not realizing that joining the “Los Angeles” network is not exactly private. For college students and high school students, the school and location network are really meaningful and totally viable structural boundaries for sociability. Yet, the 25+ crowd doesn’t really live in the same network boundaries. I’m constantly shifting between LA and SF as my city network. When I interview teens, 80%+ of their FB network is from their high school. Only 8% of my network is from Berkeley and the largest network (San Francisco) only comprises 17% of my network. Networks don’t work for highly-mobile 25+ crowd because they don’t live in pre-defined networks. (For once, I’m an example!)

The interesting thing is that Scoble wants to make Facebook do what MySpace does. He wants to be a micro-celeb with a bazillion friends/fans and he wants to interact with all of them. And he wants to do it on Facebook because he sees that as more his space than MySpace, even though the other is set up for that. (I can’t really see the porn-Scoble or the emo-Scoble, but it sure would be funny.) He’s bumping up against the fact that Facebook was designed to be closed, to be intimate, to be tight. It was what made its early adopters value it. And now, for whatever reason, Facebook has decided to move in the direction of MySpace – slowly tiptoeing to being a very public service.

It makes sense to attract those who want to be public, but how public can they go without affecting those who relish the closed-ness? For the most part, Facebook has been immune from privacy-related attacks from the Attorneys General and press. They’ve been toted as the “right” solution. Can people who want to be private live alongside those who want to be PUBLIC? How are boundaries going to be negotiated? It seems to me that this all comes back to context and context is really getting cloudy here. It seems to me that there might be two totally different sets of expectations emerging without an in-between solution. And I have a sneaking suspicion that the “solution” is to push people into accepting being public.

I feel the need to address folks’ response that it’s all about the privacy settings. Someone out there has to have public data on how frequently people change settings vs. staying with the defaults. (I’ve seen plenty of private reports on this, but don’t know of any that I can cite.) Let’s just say that defaults matter. Very few people change the defaults. They are more likely to shift their behavior (or leave a site) than change the defaults. Thus, a move to force people to “opt-out” is not only about dictating the social expectations, but also setting people up to face the costs of those defaults, even if they don’t really want to. I don’t really understand why Facebook decided to make public search opt-out. OK, I do get it, but I don’t like it. Those who want to be PUBLIC are more likely to change settings than those who chose Facebook for its perceived privacy. Why did Facebook go from default-to-privacy-protection to default-to-exposure? I guess I know the answer to this… it’s all about philosophy. Unfortunately, it’s not a philosophy that most of the teens I interviewed or their parents share. But this type of exposure is far more insidious and potentially harmful than the privacy trainwreck I documented earlier.

I think that one of the reasons that the tech crowd lurves Facebook is because they both want the “transparent society.” This is the philosophy that information dissemination can only be beneficial and that people should not seek to hide things. Embedded in this are unstated issues of privilege and normative views. It’s OK to be transparent when you look like everyone else, but go ask the gay Christian living in an Arab state how he feels about being transparent about his social world. Fleshing out a critique of the transparent society requires a different post, but I’m starting to get the sinking feeling that we’re all part of a transparent society experiment and my discomfort stems from a deep concern about who all is going to get washed up in that tsunami. The goal doesn’t seem to be about helping people maintain privacy; it seems more like pushing them to accept a world where they are constantly aware of everyone around them. Hmm…

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22 comments to SNS visibility norms (a response to Scoble)

  • dang, i thought i did pretty well at not just thinking like a straight-white-male all the time, but this threw me:

    > It’s OK to be transparent when you look like everyone else

    ‘cos i don’t think i’d ever thought about transparency like that before…

    I’d gotten so used to this mode where I don’t really care what other people think, and to a certain extent that holds, but only because the things that might be revealed about me (with increased transparency) aren’t going to put me in any _actual_ danger…

    so that’s given me something to think about; thank you :)

    -p

  • richard Kilmer

    You often cite “privacy” and I have been trying to come up with a concise definition of said beast. I know this is always dangerous because privacy has so many dimensions but here it goes:

    “Privacy is the expectation of the control of the flow of information either implicitly or explicitly communicated by an entity through a medium”

    I tried to capture many things here but the thing that is most often left out is the medium itself. Your past posts of FB shifting the medium with the news feed (music goes silent in the room, etc) really drove that point home to me. The implicit and explicit thing are important too. If I am walking around in my bedroom after a shower I am implicitly communicating information in that medium. If my expectation of how that information flows (as in nowhere) is violated (via a hidden camera) my privacy is violated. If I am walking around London where cameras are recording me for protection purposes…um…ok’ish…but if that video shows up on YouTube my privacy has been violated. So the expectation when it does not match the reality is where the privacy violation occurs. Many folks have expectations that are ill founded. On the flip side, many folks have perfectly reasonable expectations but the reality is something quite different.

  • Capitalism has trumped socialism again, and the individual loses. Unless the individual can win, neither will we have a healthy society or a functioning economy.

    Facebook has no choice but to go wide open, and ideally as wide as Google, because their primary monetization mechanism is based on Ads. Following the leader, their only way to make sense out of “more is better” is to provide search – so now they are trying out “social search”! Hello, how innovative is that?

    The best place to manage my context today is, unfortunately, in my own, personal communications system – be it email, IM, or SMS. To prevent these systems from flooding me, I have become reduced to an information secretary, constantly filtering & filing. I am perennially trying to figure out what I am supposed to be doing, i.e. a clean context will hopefully clear my cluttered mind!

    I think the fundamental solution for a people network is to build a system that has monetization of the network within the network. Then the core values are maintained as the network scales, and no mis-set expectations. Google is a system network so there are no personal expectations. eBay has a built-in ecosystem, with clear expectations from buyers/sellers, but this represents only of a slice of humanity. Not Amazon which gets its ‘products’ from outside, and definitely not faceBook where Ads are from ‘outside’.

    Taking the eBay model and scaling it across all facets of human relationships, not just commercial, what I want is a system that allows me to negotiate who I want to be in each facet of my life. It’s not about privacy, it’s about my faceted identity (to quote danah herself). With a faceted identity, at each point of interaction, I now have the complete context to be effective.

  • Take it from an ex-Facebook addict. What made the platform so awesome is that it helped you connect with people you were likely to meet in the real world, on campus.

    FaceBook was about keeping track of your friends, friends in the strictest definition of the word, people you regularly see and hang out with.

    What made MySpace suck and made my generation move to FaceBook was advertising. I’m not talking about popup ads or banner ads, but people who wanted to become your friend just so they could advertise their message to your friends via your “comments page” which is the same thing as “FaceBook’s Wall.”

    Scoble, a man who I deeply respect, is using FaceBook incorrectly and spreading a message that everyone who wants to be like him should do the same thing he is doing, becoming a living breathing form of advertisement. The transition of FaceBook from something for you and your friends to a form of advertising is already beginning to happen.

    Social networks on the internet always turn out like this. In the beginning you invite your closest friends and in the end you all abandon ship because someone choose to be a dickhead and see if he could get 50 friends, next goal 100, then 1000 and so on. When I read Scoble was having issues with hitting FaceBook’s limit of 5,000 friends I was disgusted.

    He took the definition of the word friend, manipulated it into marketing propaganda and expects everyone to accept the same definition of the word. When people start thinking of social networks as advertising platforms, things run a muck.

    Who am I to tell you or anyone else how to use a website? Technology is fun when people use things in ways they weren’t intended too. As for me and the rest of my early to mid 20 year old friends, we’re on Jaiku. It just so happens we all use Nokia devices running S60 and we can keep track of each other while on the go. It’s a chatroom where you get to select the participants.

    I’m not plugging Jaiku, but I know you’re a researcher who is probably curious to know what young people are using.

  • Re:

    “Embedded in this are unstated issues of privilege and normative views. It’s OK to be transparent when you look like everyone else, but go ask the gay Christian living in an Arab state how he feels about being transparent about his social world. Fleshing out a critique of the transparent society requires a different post, but I’m starting to get the sinking feeling that we’re all part of a transparent society experiment and my discomfort stems from a deep concern about who all is going to get washed up in that tsunami. The goal doesn’t seem to be about helping people maintain privacy; it seems more like pushing them to accept a world where they are constantly aware of everyone around them.”

    A very insightful analysis. Aisde from the issues of commercialization of personal information. I think this parallels the thinking around the post-9/11 moves toward a surveillance society. The common defense is that if you are doing nothing wrong, the cameras, wiretaps, etc. don’t matter. But there is a fundamental expectation of privacy among many people that gets trampled when they lose control of their information. Some further reading on this perspective…

    A Critique of the “Nothing to Hide” Argument (Daniel J. Solove):
    http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2007/07/a_critique_of_t.html

    The Value of Privacy (Bruce Schneier):
    http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/05/the_value_of_pr.html

    Intellectual Privacy (Neil Richards):
    http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2007/08/intellectual_pr_1.html

  • There are a small number of people who don’t mind living their lives transparently. I happen to be one of them, which is probably why I agree with Scoble so often. But time and age have taught me that most people aren’t comfortable that way, and would at least like some choice in how they are viewed by others. The problem with social networks is that in the beginning, with few members, they are inherently private; as they become successful, they are inherently NOT private. So controls are critical. Choice is critical. Jaiku is now a club, Twitter is a club, etc. They will grow and turn out to be like MySpace and Facebook, and the original users will feel betrayed.

    Of course if all these social networks had different business models, they would be smaller and there would be more control. Think country clubs. Is that what we want?

  • It makes sense to attract those who want to be public, but how public can they go without affecting those who relish the closed-ness?

    Ding ding ding–Scoble is thinking in very scoble-centric terms, I feel. His is *not* by any means the usual way facebook is used. He forfeits a lot of FB functionality, in fact, by his usage pattern. I don’t know what percentage of users they are now, but my peers, my group–the teens, the college students–are not in it for the self-promotion possibilities to the world at large. To our peers? Sure, that’s the whole point of misrepresentative personal information and tastes in music. But judging from behavior alone (photos, etc etc) there are really more people using–or thinking they are using, or trying to use–facebook in a more private sense.

    It seems to me that there might be two totally different sets of expectations emerging without an in-between solution. And I have a sneaking suspicion that the “solution” is to push people into accepting being public.

    Agree completely, and that is why for the last year or so I’ve been making mumbling noises about how facebook is at times alienating its original base. Changing not only the use behavior but also the privacy sensibilities of all facebook users may be more trouble than mark zuckerberg bargained for, and could backfire.

    Facebook as a tool loses much of its usefulness to many of its users if it’s made too public. Many of them don’t know that yet, though. There will be a period of disconnect there, I think.

  • Great post. I just wonder if your last sentence is the right way round.

    Should

    “it seems more like pushing them to accept a world where they are constantly aware of everyone around them.”

    actually be

    “it seems more like pushing them to accept a world where everyone around them is constantly aware of them.”

    The first is about enabling people to stay in touch with their distributed network. The second is about preserving privacy within that transparent society.

    As an aside, ever since David Brin’s “The Transparent Society” I’ve thought that the solution to CCTV cameras is to make every last one of them public webcams. The privacy problem is in the asymmetry of access.

  • “Embedded in this are unstated issues of privilege and normative views. It’s OK to be transparent when you look like everyone else, but go ask the gay Christian living in an Arab state how he feels about being transparent about his social world. Fleshing out a critique of the transparent society requires a different post, but I’m starting to get the sinking feeling that we’re all part of a transparent society experiment and my discomfort stems from a deep concern about who all is going to get washed up in that tsunami. The goal doesn’t seem to be about helping people maintain privacy; it seems more like pushing them to accept a world where they are constantly aware of everyone around them.”

    Agreed. I’ve often thought that the lack of privacy controls offered on the web is rather myopic. I’m glad you brought up the issue of transparency with such a powerful example. I’ve come to accept what seems to be a movement towards a more public, transparent web, and not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but I also agree with Julian that perhaps it should be about maintaining privacy in the midst of transparency.

    Great post. I just recently discovered your blog and very much enjoy your insights!

  • danah, just wanted to say this was great. i love this:

    “It’s OK to be transparent when you look like everyone else, but go ask the gay Christian living in an Arab state how he feels about being transparent about his social world.”

    maybe transparency too can be viewed as just “some thing the popular kids are into.” it’s kind of even got that competitive undertone to it of rebel-without-a-cause era chicken races or something. like the proverbial jumping off bridges, just cuz “everyone else” is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily for everyone.

  • Yes!

    regarding the idea that “most people aren’t comfortable that way” (i.e., with transparency) – I would emphasize, as you did, d, that many societies make it necessary for people to have privacy.

    Because the punishment for revealing certain things, in various places, including the USA (like your sexual orientation, or even just your gender) can run from harassment to death. I’m all for changing that situation, but exposing the people whom society threatens to those dangers doesn’t change it.

    I like the kinda goffman-y discussion of privacy. But I’d also emphasize that context (a la nissenbaum) is important. Being transparent within your group of chosen friends is so different from being open with your boss, or the religious leaders of your family’s community in another country. The same action has different meanings when you take it out of context. So I think that aspect has something to do with privacy as well, the ability to control the context, or at least for the context to be fixed and knowable.

  • it seems more like pushing them to accept a world where they are constantly aware of everyone around them.

    Well, yes, that is the point, in my view. We are in the midst of transitioning to such a world in which everyone is “constantly aware of everyone around them.” You have just described the state of being that I often characterize as being ubiquitously connected, and therefore pervasively proximate.

    The case of non-normative behaviour attracting unwanted (and often life-threatening) awareness is obviously problematic. Ironically, it is just this problematic quality that might ultimately help us collectively solve the problem of bigotry, hatred and fear of the other over the long term. Hate’s biggest fear is a bright light – precisely the type of bright light that is enabled by the various transparency-enabling technologies.

  • Kathy Sierra

    (wonderful, thought-provoking post, as always, danah)

    Mark: “in my view. We are in the midst of transitioning to such a world in which everyone is “constantly aware of everyone around them.” You have just described the state of being that I often characterize as being ubiquitously connected, and therefore pervasively proximate.”

    I haven’t the talent to accurately describe just how much this creeps me out. Not that I disagree about the transition, just that I so don’t want to go there. ‘Party of One” by Anneli Rufus should be required reading for anyone involved with social networking software. We risk *a lot* when we assume that *more togetherness=more goodness*, and that only those with something to hide (or a psychological flaw) need/want to be less transparent.

    http://www.annelirufus.com/

  • Great conversation on privacy preferences and real issues.

    The term that I have trouble with is ‘living a transparent life’. It seems to be almost a de rigeur posture among the tech in crowd, inferring a statement about honesty and ethical behavior. What I cannot reconcile is how displaying yourself in public seems to equate to high standing in terms of morality and character.

    Reputation, for me, has always been something that is built through relationships and interaction. The closer and more intimate those relationships and interactions are, the more weight is attached to how your behavior within them adds to your reputation.

    The closest relationships and interactions in our lives, though, are the ones we are least likely to publicly display in detail. Whether they are with business partners, dear friends, or our spouses, the most important and even intimate aspects of them aren’t something most of us would share on the internet, even if we are part of the in-crowd, networking like mad, and trying to be ‘transparent’.

    Should the personal internet be more than a means of communication, a venue for publishing, and a tool for organization and work? Perhaps I am mistaken in thinking that most of us don’t really want to be true public figures. It seems to me that many are expressing a wish to expand their visibility and personal networks in an innately public place without understanding how much control they are ceding when every single action and statement is recorded for posterity, regardless of privacy settings.

  • Kathy – Although I am an optimist at heart, and I hold much hope for our collective culture and civilization, I am also reminded of Marshall McLuhan’s observation on the Global Village from 1967: “There is more diversity, less conformity under a single roof in any family than there is with the thousands of families in the same city. The more you create village conditions, the more discontinuity and division and diversity. The global village absolutely insures maximal disagreement on all points. It never occurred to me that uniformity and tranquillity were the properties of the global village – I don’t approve of the global village. I say we live in it.”

    More togetherness clearly does not equal more goodness. But what it might provide over time are fewer places for evildoing to hide.

    Another aspect, specifically with respect to the industry that seems to be Scoble, is that he is tending to view himself much as a product manager would view a consumer product. I would argue that such a view is exemplary of the extreme human fragmentation created by Industrial Age and modern (as in 20th c.) capitalist societal framing. In other words, Scoble, to me, represents an extreme antithesis of the emergent ethos of a massively interconnected world.

    Similar to Scoble, it is true that I, too, create my own online representation via my blog. My intent is not to mass-market myself, but instead to enable people who have common interests, or are seeking to solve a problem with which I might be able to assist to connect with me.

    Arguably not a difference in kind; clearly a difference in degree, intent, and effect.

  • “The iPhone is locked up tight and doesn’t let us play. But it is so superior to the alternatives”

    I don’t know if this just a bad example, or a good example of something he didn’t mean to portray. Lacking removeable memory, third-party applications, 3G data, real push email and text messaging, and having an lower-resolution screen compared to, say, Symbian on a N or E series Nokia, the iphone is an inferior product, not a superior one. Rather than assume that he’s ignorant of the developments in mobile technology over the past couple years, I’ll just assume this is another example of Apple-induced myopia. Maybe he needs some iGlasses.

  • hilary

    The main thing that bothers me about this type of thing is that the transparency is one-way. Metaphorically speaking, people can “look” at you if you have an open profile, but you can’t look back. You can’t engage with those who are looking at you and therefore cannot make requests of them for things like respect and civility. I recently read some excerpts from Stephen Darwall’s excellent ‘Second Person Standpoint’, where he argues that morality “presupposes our authority to make claims and demands on one another”. This seems to me to be (at least partially) the appeal of a fully transparent society. However, the one-way communication embodied by open profiles undermines the authority of the observed to make claims and demands on the observer.

    Having an open profile is like standing in the bright sun when everyone else is behind tinted windows. You assume that they’re there, but you don’t know. Bentham’s thought experiment (the Panopticon) suggested that the people who think they’re being observed will behave better, but that the power lies with the privileged few who are able to observe without being observed. If you map Facebook onto the panopticon-metaphor, it seems that the guys at Facebook themselves (who have full access to the databases behind FB) are in a very good position, or, as your metaphor suggests, on very high ground.

  • Michael Chui

    I make a distinction between “privacy” and “security”. If you take richard Kilmer’s definition of privacy, I’d apply that to security. Security is about control and choosing how and where information goes. Privacy, to me, is a very specific form of security that relates only to governing bodies. Employers, Facebook as a company, the government.

    Kathy: Haven’t seen your name in a while. Good to see you about. =)

    Mark pegs most of it, but to add to the response, you’re right that “togetherness” doesn’t directly correlate with “goodness”; it’s more of an Uncanny-Valley-shaped curve: a rising steepness with a sharp downward spike near the end. Human beings are built to associate with each other in small groups: we need bits of togetherness, but not too much, because when we hit the valley, everything goes south because we aren’t built to cope with too much difference.

    But if you educate yourself to difference, if you build up the togetherness slowly and in small steps, then the transition doesn’t hurt at all.

    The problem isn’t togetherness: it’s how that togetherness happens. Facebook doesn’t do it right; nothing on the Internet does. The only way to do it right is through controlled exposure and education by someone who’s gone before.

  • Mark, “providing fewer places for evildoing to hide” seems to assume that those doing the looking (or the stopping of evil, once found) are to be trusted on their definition of evil and their methods of stopping it.

    Given what I know of people with the power to search massively, and the power to “enforce” something against evildoing so defined, I have little confidence of that. I’m not only speaking of the government (currently locking up so-called evildoers in guantanamo) or but also mobs, and also those who seem very successful at defining evil and organizing against that definition – extremists of religion and politics.

    too many societies are organized in such a way that transparency will feed existing inequalities. I see no evidence that transparency alone will break those inequalities down, although I am hopeful it can be mobilized to do so in specific circumstances.

    and Danah, the classic Nissenbaum piece I was thinking of is “Privacy as Contextual Integrity”
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=534622

  • Danah,
    This is the third post I am making…and the previous two have still not made it on your blog. I am an avid fan of your writings and would appreciate knowing whether there is some technical glitch, or you feel my sentiments are not in line, or you detect self promotion at work…

    Let me give this a final shot…
    rgds,
    /srini

    Yahoo created the Internet guide and enforced a taxonomy on content, which slowly got whittled away by Google search, and now we have finally achieved a happy middle ground by using Web 2.0 folksonomies. Although centralized control over public/published content is not such a good thing (because information needs to be widely accessible in the information economy), user-control over one’s various profiles is highly needed. The older generation has by now discovered that ‘more money, more better’ mantra is not necessarily true, but the younger generation has yet to discover the full ramifications of the ‘more fans, more better’ mantra.

    We have great filters for content now, but no filters for how others can see us! The notion of a faceted identity that can reveal a user in different ways in different contexts (private, public, or in-between) is something that needs to be under personalized control of the user. Security/Privacy is about what I reveal, not what I hide.

  • I agree with much of what you’ve written, but I’ll have to admit I agree with a lot of what Scoble has said as well. I’m not sure all the fear of exposure is rational. For instance, California has a much higher percentage of unlisted phone numbers than the rest of the country. Are there really more stalkers there or are people just more paranoid?

    In any case anonymity is more ephemeral than most people realize. It only takes one chance encounter with law enforcement (getting a speeding ticket, or even being a victim of a crime), the government (paying property taxes), or the public (playing a sport, attending a charity event) to put oneself in the public eye and create an indelible electronic artifact. Better to get out in front of the problem and take control as you recommended in a previous post than to hope to remain forever anonymous.

    I also don’t understand the objection to Facebook’s public search. All that they made available is the fact that one has a profile and a photo. Since anyone could already get a free Facebook account, this information is already accessible to anyone. There is no context, so you won’t pop up in a search for other than your name, which is only marginally easier than going to Facebook and doing the same thing.

    Your previous post on controlling your public appearance should be required reading for anyone connecting to the Internet.

  • Hi! Thanks for the posting. I’ve never used MYSPACE, but my impression has always been one of transparency and very public. I am a recent FaceBook user and have enjoyed it tremendously. And an even more recent Twitter user (can’t quite “branch out” comfortably on this one yet; however, I’m trying!) —

    I have always felt comfortable with the privacy level on facebook with the settings you discussed; however, I’ve been hearing rumors now about false identifications being created based on information that we voluntarily post about our personal lives. I thought I was always so careful about this and yet I find myself so careless about this. I think it’s due to my “PERCEPTION” that I’m safe and that it is in fact PRIVATE.

    So, thank you for the information that facebook has been leaning and moving more toward the “public” factor.

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