Privacy in the Age of Facebook

This is part generational study and part truth.

The short version: two kids meet, don’t hit it off, one starts taking secret shots of the other in public and posts them to a fake stalker blog, the other finds out, isn’t pissed and interviews him for a school assignment.

That’s as short as I could make it.

Stalking in the age of Facebook

If you’re like me, you’ll read this with morbid fascination or something similar. It’s kind of like watching the social habits of another culture. I was struck most by the apathy; neither seems to care much about the incident. It feels very routine, which is creepy to me, an old fart.

The key takeaway:

You know when Mark Zuckerberg says stuff like privacy doesn’t matter and Facebook makes formerly private information public without notice and all the tech pundits (most of whom are older than Zuck) go bananas tearing out their hair about how stupid and crazy that is? Now you know where Zuck and Facebook are coming from.

Too bad Facebook isn’t only for a single generation.




  1. Heard a good one a while ago – LinkedIn Gets You Hired, Facebook Gets You Fired. You have to wonder as these kids get old how LinkedIn will prevent itself turning into a playground.

  2. And what about Twitter 🙂 I read the same, and there was so quip for Twitter too. Things are changing around us; will Facebook and LinkedIn even be around by then?

  3. Good question. Wondering if we’d ever have competition issues referred to the courts if LinkedIn tried to buy Facebook in a few years time. 

    “Twitter gets you… er…” 

    I am more interested in Twitter versus Texting to be honest. Incredible ethnography here on texting that Twitter doesn’t even come close to in terms of value to users.

  4. It’s hard to project the shelf-life of companies. Look back ten years, and Yahoo was on top. So, in ten years, who knows? I guess the market matures and some companies stick around, but it’s a highly disruptive and evolving market.

    In ten or twenty years, there will be some other affront to privacy that the kids don’t care about, and the Millenials will cry foul. We’ll be rocking in our chairs smiling or something.

  5. kroq interview this morning was with a newslady who is doing a show on the Oprah network.  Sunday’s show is about amateur porn sites.  The DJ’s were all agog at one of the segments they had seen, which was about some 50-year-old lady, furthest thing you could imagine from “porn star,” and about how so many of her subscribers were twenty-somethings asking if she would be their mommy.  ISP splits fees 75(ISP)/25(“amateur”), now there’s a business model.

    I think all the things that affront us about privacy and the internet will be turned upside down.  Everyone will have something out there, so that will not make it meaningless, but merely a rite of passage, like eventually-droopy tattoos. 

    Of course, any prediction like this I make is likely to be backwards, the blasphemous tubes will get wiped out in jihad anyways.

  6. I’m not sure that privacy ever held the position people pretend. Image if the concept of a telephone directory was being launched today. Publishing a list of everyone’s name, address and telephone number, plus giving the list away to anyone and everyone (generally free). [I think they used to charge extra to have an unlisted number, not sure if they still do.] 

    Privacy advocates would be up in arms about the concept now. But it was just the way of things. 

  7. Interesting analogy, and yes, they used to charge a fee for an unlisted number and then later for blocking your caller ID.

    A couple differences that come immediately to mind: the internet never forgets, and it’s much easier to find and connect metadata about people than using a phone book. A big worry for social networks is that they don’t do enough (on purpose) to protect people from themselves.

    It should be as easy to educate yourself about these issues as it is to run afoul of them, but that won’t happen anytime soon.

    Re. this story, it seems like young people don’t really care. Probably not applicable to everyone in that generation, but an interesting case study in apathy about a topic that fires up older people.

  8. Another interesting point, leverage is lost when everyone has it, i.e. failed to some extent on the interwebs.

    I tend to agree that people will turn the model on its head through their apathy. Look at the kids in this story. They’re likely to be just as apathetic about the ads Tumblr and Facebook show them. So, the business model is invalid.

    An internet jihad, frightening.

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