Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technology,
it happens when society adopts new behaviors.
(Clay Shirky, “Here Comes Everybody”)
Imagine a person staying naked on the street and saying: “No one is allowed to look at me. It is my body and my right. Only those who I choose will look at me.” Will that work? Some people would respect the person’s choice and turn away. Others would not be able to resist the temptation and have a sneaky look. And some would tell: “What?! You are staying naked in public and asking for privacy?” That seems very similar to having Bill of Rights for the users of the social media to me.
“Do not put anything online unless you want it to stay there forever,” says one of my professors. Forever and easily accessible. It is naive to expect, let’s say from Facebook or Google, to be transparent about how users’ personal information is shared with others. Do we live in a fairy-tale world filled with altruist ideas? Many examples in the recent books I have read, such as Rosenberg’s “Say Everything” give examples that even the most altruist initiatives on opening blogs or social networks will end up with commercial interests.
Bill of Rights for the users of the social media is a great initiative in general, but it is hard to see it work anytime soon. With all discussions going on around privacy and freedom to grant persistent access to personal information to trusted external sites, websites still practice giving out personal information and realistically, it will not stop anytime soon.
On a daily basis, we get offers on several things we are interested as a spam. Google watches our interests and we start receiving subject-matter spam to Gmail account. Even if my profile is closed, Facebook shares the information about my photography passion and puts the ad box from the photography schools on my page every day. Surprisingly, it even does not annoy me anymore, because I always have the option to stop it. This is like a price to pay for the free account on Facebook. However, I have options of having the information online or not at all.