Can privacy and problem solving go hand in hand?

Week 5:
Analyse critically the following statement by Mark Zuckerberg while comparing it to privacy issues raised by online social networking collaborative practices:

Here’s a short clip by Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of social networking site, Facebook.
(video can’t be embedded. Click on the link to view it!)

In the clip, he points out that
1) People tend to share more when they feel that they have control over what they share.
2) By limiting the sharing, the world becomes more connected
3) Problems faced by people would be easier to solve.

His rationale: There may be many people who face similar problems. When they share it, there is awareness, and people are able to brainstorm, and help solve the problems.

Gif Bin

Credits to lucario515

How does that work? How are we being more connected with the world, when we only allow certain people to view whatever we post on Facebook? Does this allow the rest of the world to interact with me, or what I said?

The fact is – nothing online is private anymore (Tapscott, 2009). Cached posts, screen shots.. Let’s face it, technology is so advanced, even if the Black Box is crushed, information still can be retrieved.

Here are some statistics. According to Solove (2007), 87.8% of Facebook users reveal their birth date, 39.9% list their phone number, and an astonishing 50.8% of them list their current residence. How are we going private, when we’re putting personal information for the world to see?

How can we ensure that private data online will never be seen by others because of the “privacy controls” we have set?

Like what Joyce Chng said, the whole need to explain privacy settings is indeed ironic. Setting privacy controls do not make a world more open and connected. In fact, privacy controls limit the amount of information being shared with the public.

Numerous times, companies send me emails like these:

(own images used)

So, I shared my email with a certain company, and other companies buy my email and send me those mails? How do these emails help me solve my problems in any way? I do understand that “the Internet” wants to solve my problems, but I’m a little shocked that they’ve predicted the problems I may, or may not face in the future.

In reality, the more you control over what you share on the internet, the less your personal information is spread. Thus, whatever “problems” one may have, it’s hard to get the world to solve it together, because only a few “trusted” people in your social networking site would be able to see the problem.

For those interested in looking at the full-length video (I didn’t just take it out of context), here it is

I admit social networking has helped us:
1) Keep in touch with friends around the world
2) Share views on topics of interest
3) Being able to spread awareness on issues

Point 3 probably has the biggest impact in solving problems, and indeed, it has been one of the more useful tools in social networking. It’s probably what Zuckerberg was referring to. I just don’t get how making your privacy setting to be set as “super restricted” will help you solve problems.

Matt Cohler, Facebook’s former strategy chief once said “Privacy meant it’s a secret, or it’s something that I don’t share with other people” (Tapscott. 2009). However, for the new generation privacy means being able to control what you share with others, not keeping information totally private (Tapscott. 2009). Have definitions changed?

Maybe I’ll ask my 5 friends (I can’t trust the other 600 of them so only 5 can see what I post) on facebook and see if they’re able to solve this problem for me.

Tubechop. 2011, ‘Extract form Mark Zuckerberg on Making Privacy Controls Simple’, Tubechop, viewed 25 April 2011.

Tapscott, D 2009, ‘A generation bathed in Bits’, in S Scott (eds), Grown up digital: How the net generation is changing your world, McGraw Hill, USA, pp. 39 – 69.

Solove, D. (2007) ‘How the Free Flow of Information Liberates and Constrains Us’, in The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor and Privacy on the Internet, New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 17-49.

2 responses to “Can privacy and problem solving go hand in hand?

  1. Hi Charmaine,

    I see your point in this issue. I too agree that there will never be privacy in regards to anything online. Once its online, its out there forever.

    I would like to bring up an issue there. It’s regarding creating awareness of events, a disease, an issue, etc. I think that awareness created in such a way is very misleading to the public or i should say people who use Facebook. This is because there is a great tendency for people to judge the seriousness or popularity of the ‘promoted’ event or issue by the number of ‘Likes’ to that page. When compared to the general population, something that received thousands of ‘Likes’ might not even make up a significant percentage.

    Also, it is said that by sharing problems, it is possible to receive solutions from people who had the same problems or are facing it. But, with the privacy settings, the people who can ‘give advise’ are people whom you know and most probably hang out with frequently (assuming that people who will reply to your post are most probably your closer friends), so wouldn’t your given ‘solutions’ be from like-minded people? How does that help in solving a problem? I feel that this would only create a firmer believe in a one-sided perceived solution.

    From the movie “Easy A”, a professor said he don’t understand this generation. The example he gave was a student wrote something like he just got a coke zero from a gas station (i think its something like that..forgive my memory) and the question was: so what? Why is there a need to tell everyone you got a coke zero and from a gas station? This got me to think. Is our generation so deprived of a listening ear? Maybe parents are to busy to ask or listen? Or the kids themselves do not want to say anything to people of another generation? Maybe this generation wants attention? Or popularity? Or fame? Is it harder to become famous with so many people stepping out to showcase their talents so popularity and fame have to come from such means?

    Just some of the things that came to mind (:

    • Hi Pan!
      I think your issue is really valid, and I’ve honestly never thought about it before. It is true that the more “likes” there are on a facebook page, the more popular it seems, the more people will be interested in, and probably click like. So I’m guessing it’s a cycle?

      As for people who solve your problems would most probably be “like-minded”, as they say, birds of a feather flock together. But there’ll always be one friend who’ll disagree with you, and that is the opinion you should look out for because knowing a different view point will widen our “sight”. Saying that, people who disagree with your view point may just not comment.. so I guess it’s up to us to decide, to those who agree with us and find solutions, is it because we have the same thinking? Or have they helped to weigh the other options for us?

      I think it’s due to the advancement in technology, like how we will tweet when we come across something, or if there is anything random that pops to our mind. Maybe it’s because there are people who have become famous due to youtube videos, blogging, maybe even twitter. It’s an easy way to be famous, to maybe people have turned to that?

      Thanks for your thoughts, I feel that it’s actually important to understand why we’re so big on social media, and get to the root of it.

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