Sunday, March 08, 2009

Facebook's Privacy Conundrum

As a Facebook subscriber, I try to be aware of the fact that everything I do on that popular social networking platform is subject to broad public exposure. for a while now I've been amused at the way FB users seem hyper-sensitive about Facebook's privacy policy, yet blissfully unaware at their own willing forfeiture of the very privacy about which they purport to be so concerned.

An article ran this weekend in the New York Times that addresses this conundrum somewhat, though I think the treatment of this phenomenon in the article is more superficial in preference to its discussion of Facebook's demographics -- including the tendency for younger users to treat their privacy cavalierly (the Ponemon Institute has identified this "privacy age gap" in a number of studies over the years).

The author opens the essay by predicting that the position of Chief Privacy Officer will no longer exist at Facebook in ten years. To the contrary, I think Chris Kelly may have one of the most interesting CPO jobs in the world, operating in a privacy laboratory unlike any other, constantly working to find the balance in creating a social networking utility that is so trustworthy and respectful of subscriber privacy that those subscribers feel secure enough to share the details of their lives within its pages.

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