The Moving Line of Trust / Privacy and its Effect on Promises

Five stories caught my eye this week. They touch upon the same issue: the moving line between information and too much information in the hands of a few.

Moving line of trust/privacy, and its effect on promises

As with previous posts, which I will continue to collect on this page on trends, the purpose of these posts is to show patterns on business and technology trends. How is the context changing? What kinds of issues are being brought to the fore?

The point is to think about business questions and differing viewpoints together. I'll start by highlighting some of the comments to the posts.

Saturday five

The five stories that caught my eye this week are:


1In Apple's antitrust problem, Frédéric Filloux discusses the company's dominance over the tablet market:

[…] according to hosting provider Pingdom, which monitors global traffic, the iPad controls 88% of the tablet-based internet traffic worldwide; in the US, it’s 95.5% […] a device that represent only 1.2% of the worldwide web usage (desktop + tablets)

Filloux then goes on to expose two main points of concern: customer access / data and the 30% distribution costs. The conversation that ensues in the comments is actually what caught my eye.

Toward the bottom, Grant Gibson asks: with the customer data myth debunked and the 30% total distribution costs looking like much less of an issue, does that now leave newspapers with a sustainable model? I suspect not, which suggests those aren’t the real issues. So what are? Less people are willing to pay less for the opinion of an averagely informed few. How do we fix THAT?!


2Online privacy is a hot issue, and it is even hotter when it comes to teenagers and young adults. Danah Boyd published her interview with the Wall Street Journal on the ongoing debate of privacy in the networked world.

Social media has prompted a radical shift. We’ve moved from a world that is “private-by-default, public-through-effort” to one that is “public-by-default, private-with-effort.”

[…] privacy is not simply the control of information. Rather, privacy is the ability to assert control over a social situation.

[…] The answer is not to silence consumers from sharing their experiences, but rather to limit what insurers can do with information that they can access.

From the comment's box, hibob expands on the last point: This is not asserting control over a social situation. This is asserting control over a BUSINESS situation, one completely unrelated to the social context that generated the information. It is about employment, insurance, purchases, and other contexts that need privacy to prevent abuse. “social situation” privacy is really a minor aspect of the privacy issues that need to be addressed by organizations that create and sell access to databases of personal information. As you can probably tell, I disagree with your suggestion that regulations should fall solely on the parties making use of personal information as opposed to also including the organizations collecting it.


3Jeff Jarvis lends another voice to the same Wall Street Journal debate on privacy in the networked world. His interview goes on to highlight:

I ask us to also recognize and guard the publicness our new tools empower. I hope we engage in another discussion about the principles of an open society: the right to connect, speak, assemble and act; privacy as an ethic; the call for our institutions to become transparent by default and secret by necessity (now it is reversed); the value of maintaining the public square; and the need to safeguard the people’s net from tyrants, censors, private control, and the unintended consequences of well-meaning but premature regulation.

Privacy has its protectors. What of publicness?

[…] identity can aid connections. Tracking can produce relevance. Personalization can reduce noise. These are benefits of the net.

In the comments box, Mark Mcguire adds a thoughtful consideration: There is no equivalent of the public square online, at least nothing approaching the historic agora, or the open market square that we all remember from our visits to older, more human-scaled cities that were built before the automobile and well-meaning planners pulled us apart. As well as lacking traditional public space, the Internet has no intermediate, semi-private or semi-public space. We are “in” a space, or “not in”; visibility, and the opportunity for dialog, is “on” or “off”.


4Knolwedge @ Wharton asks has consumer data mining gone too far? Consumers have become the product. Online users, who leave digital crumbs as they browse the web and tap into social networks, generate data that can be bought and sold.

The data keeps expanding as increasing numbers of online users forego privacy in exchange for social connections. A June 2011 survey by Consumer Reports National Research Center found that 34% of Facebook users shared their full birth date online and 21% shared their children's names and photos. Roughly one in five didn't bother using Facebook's privacy controls.

As Wharton marketing professor Peter Fader says, in the rush to collect and connect, the data itself has become the focus — not the customer. In the comments, Barbara Bix adds: Many companies, intent on following data and clicks, have thrown out basic statistics and the need to understand why behavior is occurring. This focus has caused them to draw conclusions based on web visitors' behavior–many of whom have little in common with actual buyers.


5Leaving the most active comment thread for last is Robert Scoble's post on the Facebook Freky Line, which received hundereds of reactions both on his blog and on Google+.

what does this automatic sharing feature (otherwise known as “frictionless sharing”) do? Well, every time I play a song on Spotify, for instance, it tells everyone something like “Robert Scoble is listening to Skrillex on Spotify.” On Facebook’s web interface that shows up over on the right in the new ticker (not everyone has that, and only the web version shows it). It also puts that onto my new Timeline (only developers have that feature, so far).

[…] What the heck is Mark Zuckerberg doing?

He’s building a new media company. One where the media comes TO US.

[…] Users will turn off apps, or change their behavior (I already have, for instance, I don’t listen to Lady Gaga on Spotify, I only listen to bands on Spotify that I want you to see).

Zuckerberg will have to change his behavior too. You’ll find them astutely moving the freaky line around. For instance, I really do agree with some of the criticisms about this “frictionless sharing” and I think Facebook (and the third-party developers) are going to have to give their users clear controls.

The main point he makes is this line will keep moving because in order to create a media company that has relevance to people, Zuckerberg will need to collect all kinds of data. The reactions in the comments threads (and there is one on Facebook as well) run the gamut: from "wait and see" to "I deleted my account for this reason (and others)", to "desire to control what and when to share".


Where will the line move? How will that affect trust?

It's already having an effect on the promises of businesses that agree to use these third party platforms and their brands. These businesses will need to understand the assets they're creating as well as those they did not intend to create.

And please, make those TOS in human speak. Wouldn't you rather have your policies in the language of your business promises?

This week, I opted out Klout, a third party software company that bills itself as the standard of influence and embeds in the main social networks, automatically logging in profiles for Twitter users. I had to sign up and connect my two Twitter accounts to opt out when one should be able to just click on a button, or use an @ reply.