This morning whilst having my cup of java, I listened to a very interesting talk about AI (Artificial Intelligence – a topic which I enjoy).
The chat circled on privacy and shifts in our every day lives, very soon all our profiles will be easily accessible, all our data, likes/dislikes, heart rate, health issues will be readily available. I am already one of those people, with my smart watch and my google home device, my “google guy” calls me “Saff”.
I was fascinated with this speaker, but he had a time limit as with most Ted Talks. I was left wondering how personal privacy can be eroded and whether we are actually ready for this type of technology. I recall Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony not too long ago to congress on violating privacy; if you recall even Apple was called out for violating iPhone user’s privacy, it seems that no one actually values data privacy. You have to protect yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I am active on social media. I think Facebook is a great way to keep in contact with friends and family who are not close by, any platform needs to be used responsibly and with common sense.
The other day whilst chatting with a dear friend telephonically, we had mentioned a certain item I was interested in purchasing. We often joke when we don’t know something … we will ask “Dr Google, Mufti Google, Celeb Google or in this case Google the Shopper”. So I searched this item, after we ended our call, I opened my FB page, I was met with an avalanche of adverts for the very same item. With over 200 mature social media tools in operation, it's hard to make generalizations about how this information was harvested from just one convo, or the way we behave when we use search engines. Nearly all of them rely on basic human nature or they just listen to all my convo’s. (Maybe I should state my disclaimer before I start any conversation via my mobile device).
I once read a post on Tim Lisko (he tries to keep the internet safe)
“He illuminated the driving force behind all concerns about privacy issues in social media. Historically, human conversations were private and made public only through concerted effort. In a social media environment, all conversations are public unless you explicitly make them private - and that's not always easy to accomplish. While on the surface this seems obvious, once you become comfortable operating in a social network you often forget about your own privacy. You revert back to the idea you're having normal human interactions which we're conditioned to know are private.”
Why are people more accepting of strangers on social media, why do they accept random invites with no mutual connections, why are people so trusting on social media? YET, the very same people are more reserved in face-to-face situations with people they know.
Here are my thoughts …. We perceive greater risk when communicating with people we know. It's much easier to confide in a stranger, especially if you're in the comfort and privacy of your own environment.
Privacy is a very broad topic. We cannot minimize risk if we don’t know and recognize how the tools work. Just remember it’s called “social media” for a reason, it is designed to encourage you to abandon privacy. It happens in real time, we connect with people, with strangers. Our networks are interrelated in ways it's hard to comprehend.
Social networks provide an escape for many people, a game-like atmosphere where you get to reconnect with friend, collect new ones, build your followers, the bigger your numbers they more desirable you feel. (Note to self: Time for an Instagram clean up).There is a plethora of articles and blog posts about the value of quality over quantity of connections in social media. Why? Because we're wired to think more is better and there's no such thing as too much. I have about 125 FB friends, 95% of my contacts are people I know personally, the other 5% are via my contacts within reason. I do not accept any friend requests unless I know you in real life. (I don’t care how amazing your profile pic is)
Think about it, back in the day, it used to take days or weeks for a town gossip to inflict real damage. Now reputations can be ruined on a global scale within minutes. I personally keep my personal life out of social media, we ought to be careful with what we put out there. If we apply common sense, you will be able to differentiate what should be out there or not. Imagine if every thought or opinion went “viral”.