Every year around this time, the social feeds of people who know attendees of the SxSW festival are swarmed by photos, updates and digressions about activities happening in and around Austin's convention center.
This year, the output from individual attendees was at an all time high. Between Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr and Flickr, there are more venues than ever for those who lean toward oversharing. And not just with techies in Austin. Teens, adults and professionals around the world are increasingly comfortable sharing information online.
But as various talks, panels and discussions during SxSW this year revealed, the shift toward sharing information online by no means suggests that those oversharers are ready to forgo their privacy.
Chances are you've heard of Chatroulette, the clever website that pairs users up for random video web chats. It's one of the hottest websites on the internet right now.
It reportedly receives upwards of 500,000 visits each day and its creator, Andrey Ternovskiy, a 17-year-old high school student in Moscow, is now being courted by some of the world's most recognizable technology investors, including Russia's DST, which owns stakes in hot American social networking companies like Facebook and Zynga.
Google isn't afraid of failure. The company loves experimenting and will readily accept failures if they mean it finds success sooner. But if there was any new product for which Google would
probably want a 'do over', it would be Buzz.
The Gmail-based social network sparked a user revolt, and a formal
complaint has been lodged with the Federal Trade Commission alleging
that Google is violating the law and its own user agreements with Buzz. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner in Canada is already looking into Buzz as well.
It's funny how the federal government's position on behavioral targeting changes when it wants to use the information gathered. According to CNET:
"The FBI is pressing Internet service providers to record which Web
sites customers visit and retain those logs for two years, a
requirement that law enforcement believes could help it in
investigations of child pornography and other serious crimes."
Can a little blue square save the online advertising industry from regulation? The Future of Privacy Forum hopes it will. The advocacy group created the icon (at right) to provide more information to consumers about the ads being served to them online.
Now they just have to hope that consumers click on it.
Whilst I agree that people need to be clear on exactly which bits of their information is being shared and which is private, I don't think this is worth the furore that it's currently causing. Here's why...
With every new year comes many resolutions. Usually, those resolutions are designed to change one's life for the better.
For those who are literally addicted to online social networking, a possible resolution: commit online suicide. Depending on how many accounts you have and the particular services you're looking to ditch, however, that can be a tough resolution to keep.
It looks like Netflix might be spending more than $1 million on a recent campaign to improve its recommendation engine. The movie rental company recently held a contest that successfully improve its recommendation by more than 10%. But now an in-the-closet lesbian woman is suing the company for privacy invasion, saying that she could have been outed due to Netflix sharing data that wasn't quite so anonymous.
While her claims may be spurious, this could have legal implications for the ways user information is shared and stored online.
The self-inflicted wounds Facebook received from its new privacy setup are getting deeper as some users pull their information, and others quit the social network altogether.
While I think that a lot of the criticism being leveled at Facebook is
hyperbole, Facebook's new privacy regime does represent an almost 180-degree turn for the
world's largest social network.
Social media matters to individuals (and subsequently marketers) because people trust information sent by friends more than data shared by strangers. But are moves to make social information public going to send people fleeing from sharing their information online?
That's the argument from Julia Andwin, who writes today in The Wall Street Journal that she's going to submit to Facebook's new public policy. And never share anything of value again online: