Frictionless sharing and the implications of ‘Intellectual Privacy’

imageIf you have ever been slightly disturbed by sharing information about your location, the movies you watch and the books you read, take care with what you write. 

Frictionless sharing will share information about your activities amongst your Facebook friends without you even knowing that it is happening.

But if we are subconsciously sharing something that we might not want to share, should this give us cause for concern? 

I recently unfriended a friend on Facebook to show her what total strangers could see about her activities. 

She was worried that one of her ex-partners knew way too much about her. It was disturbing her.

This ex had even called one of my friends connections to shout and rage about a comment that the connection had posted on my friend’s Facebook feed. 

This was an invasion of her privacy and needed to be addressed by removing everything from her public timeline and setting strong default settings. Now she can relax.

Frictionless sharing, whilst different to privacy gives rise to similar feelings. But is frictionless sharing healthy or are we peeking into private lives

The Kurzweil blog talks about intellectual privacy – the ability to think for ourselves.  If our friends know what we read then the fear of being judged for the things we read and watch might stop us from being inquisitive and curious about the world we live in.

Perhaps we should share in a better way. According to Neil Richards in his paper ‘The Perils of Social Reading’ we are setting a worrying precedent for the future.

Thinking about our social sharing activities, the paper says:

Social reading takes us a step further. Not only are our friends with us when we watch movies at the cinema, but they’re now there when we watch movies on our computers, and also when we read on our computers. They never leave.

An always-on regime of “frictionless sharing” means we are always at the movies with our friends, even when we don’t want to be.

It means we’ll always watch the movie they choose, and we won’t choose the movie we want to see if they’d make fun of us for it. We might never get to see that film we’re curious but shy about.

This is the case whether our film is fluffy like “Gnomeo and Juliet,” political like “Bowling for Columbine,” racy like “Black Swan,” or something even more explicit.

If we’re always with our friends, we’re never alone, and we never get to explore ideas for ourselves. Of course, the stakes here go beyond movies, to reading, web-surfing, and even thinking.

Inadvertent disclosure of something that we might not want to share will cause us friction in making efforts to ensure that our information is not broadcast without our consent. The app is broadcasting information without our explicit consent.  Is this undermining our right to privacy?

Millennials might scoff at our need to keep things private.  They were born into an age of sharing everything they do with their friends.

But as job offers get withdrawn due to embarrassing Facebook posts and authorities question your choices of name and hobbies, it becomes good to have your own head space.

Having our own private space will slow down the prophetic scenario forecast by George Orwell in his Book, 1984 and give us somewhere to be our real selves

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Credit: katerha


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