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Privacy vs Social Networks

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Was interested to see a piece on Romenesco in which a correspondent slated a Wall Street Journal reporter for quoting a Friendster profile.

Friendster, for the uninitiated, is one of a swathe of personal networking sites on which you post your details and then link together with online chums to create a community of friends, and friends of friends.

Of the WSJ report that used the Friendster profile, Jonathan Katz writes: "I guess there are more stupid, less ethical ways to report, but I can't think of any... The information is basically private."

Well, I can think of more than a few examples of stupid, unethical reporting that, it seems, might shock Katz. But his point about the information being "basically private" is less naive. Those wanting a good examination of the issue should read Danny O'Brien's essay on the issue of public, private and secret registers, and the dangers of the net getting rid of the private register in favour of only public and secret. Is this another example of a situation where, to paraphrase Carly Fiorina's memorable description of music pirates, technology is developing faster than our ethics?

I just don't buy this. If you post your information into a "group" environment then I think you write off your privacy at the same time. And let's not lose ourselves in technology. Most of us have had our name address and telephone number printed in the phone book for generations. And there is the electoral roll, and Births, Deaths and Marriage certificates.

There is no such thing as privacy. Never has been. Certainly won't be in the future. "Get over it"

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

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