Invasion of the Privacy Snatchers

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There is a new technology TV commercial airing that unfolds this way:

  • A family is gathered together for a holiday
  • The “uncle” is playing a music-themed video game that requires him to dance in a funny way
  • The niece and nephew secretly film him with a mobile phone and quickly loaded the video onto Facebook to share with the entire extended family
  • When shown the upload by his chuckling family, the uncle seems shocked and then starts to dance again
  • The spot closes with the line “it is a great time to be a family.”

Welcome to 2011 when having your privacy invaded and being subjected to public ridicule is now considered family fun.

Is it any wonder that more people now fear the erosion of personal privacy than terrorism attacks, climate change or the instability of  nuclear power?  Or that 75% of people around the globe think that people share too much personal information online?

Our privacy has been chipped away by technology and social networks while at the same time a cultural shift has occurred that has virtually eliminated the very concept of shame.  In other words, our filters are broken and we now possess self-publishing tools that allow for mass dissemination of our most personal and private selves.

What we get are friends sharing medical conditions and treatments in graphic detail on Facebook.  We have family members who post risqué photographs of themselves in string bikinis or in nightgowns and pajamas on Flickr.  We have colleagues who analyze and share their intimate family relationships on their blogs.

We have marketing companies gobbling up this data that we’re sharing.  They are using it to advertise to us.  They are slicing and dicing it for market segmentation and direct marketing projects.  They are using it to provide personalized and customized services.  They are using to see what are likes and dislikes are.

We forget that when we share something online – it doesn’t really ever go away.

To illustrate this point check out the latest viral web experience:  It has privacy front and center (although you need to opt in and provide the information – it isn’t readily available otherwise).  But the application uses your personal information as part of a short interactive horror film.  Creepy, uncomfortable stuff.

Do you feel like your privacy has been invaded?  Does it bother you?  Is it just the way things are now?  What do you think?


The Reality of Online Privacy: You Have None

Think of the Send Button as a Privacy Vaporizer


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