Privacy in context.

In the 20’s we fought prohibition, 50’s and 60’s it was segregation. Today we face a new battle called privacy. I bring this up because in todays Lawrence Journal-World Sarah Benson wrote an interesting article titled Facebook indiscretions plague users (http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/aug/12/facebook_indiscretions_plague_users/).

In her article she gives two examples of the unintended consequences of social networking. The first outlines how an employer can peer into prospective employees social pasts using current employee accounts. The second explains how a group of students, toasting to the university alcohol policy in the comforts of their dorm, got caught by university officials discovering photos in a users profile.

This is somewhat frightening in a Flickr, MySpace, Friendster, Facebook, Google, Del.icio.us world. With ease I can pick a person discover last nights party pics, a detailed description of what movies, music, and body type they are, what searches they performed last night and what websites they felt worthy of remembering. This may seem harmless but when aggregated, opinions form, and worse yet form out of context.

I don’t have a problem sharing my photos (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sketch22/), bookmarks (http://del.icio.us/sketch22/), and even precious thoughts (http://www.youknowwhereyouare.com/posts/). I do worry that those who don’t know me well may take them out of context. While privacy is societies hurdle in the coming years I think we as individuals need to be reminded of the importance of context.