In my previous post, I shared some of the possible social media trends for 2014, as observed by Cedric Dias, Digital Director and Head of Social Media at Havas Media Singapore. This is Part 2 of my notes from the Social Media (Re)Connections seminar organised by the Institute of System Science, National University of Singapore on 27 November 2013.
Privacy is dead, long live privacy!
With social media really becoming mainstream, issues of privacy (or lack thereof) will become important. But is it really true that with advances in technology and the increasing ubiquity of social media that privacy is impossible?
Not so, says Leon Chia, Lecturer at Institute of Systems Science. Instead, he says that in the age of social media, it is our individual definitions of privacy that will need to be fundamentally changed. What does this mean? Basically, that there will be no absolute privacy provided by social media platforms. Instead it will be up to individuals to determine their own comfort level in releasing information. (For his full presentation on Slideshare, see the end of this post).
Take TaskRabbit or Exec for instance. People “outsource” personal errands and house cleaning to other people that are members of the same website. This does require a lot of trust on the part of the people hiring, and some of your privacy will be relinquished (I mean, the guy’s gonna come into your home!). You might argue that it’s not very different from the past where we hire plumbers or domestic helpers to come into our homes, but I reckon that because your tasks are all made available online for viewing, someone could potentially put together a profile of you based on the tasks you have listed.
So how else will social media and technology transform privacy?
The Password Has Expired – New Ways of Authentication Emerge
All of you with your shiny iPhone 5S already might be using the fingerprint identity sensors. A Finnish company, Uniqul has also launched a payment system that relies on facial recognition. Motorola is working on digital tattoos, which are electronics implanted in the body, so that the body becomes one walking authentication tool. And for those of you who are glued to your iPhones, you can also Knock to unlock your Mac.
Sigh. I actually prefer passwords, although I love Paywave.
Tracking, Predictive Analytics and Marketing
With the idea that more and more devices can be connected via the Internet a.k.a. the Internet of Things, we might also see a “Social Internet of Things” whereby your social media activities can trigger other devices to drop you alerts. Imagine checking-in on Foursquare at a shopping mall with a supermarket. Your Internet connected fridge could theoretically scan its contents and prompt you to buy milk and eggs. Right now, your plant can even tweet a plea to be watered.
To some degree, marketers are already analyzing our data and anticipating our needs and requirements. The famous case study is how Target figured out how a teenage girl was pregnant – even before her father did.
All Your Privacy Are Belong To Us?
In addition to what Leon covered above, I also thought that issues of privacy will not only be about what you as an individual choose to share with the public, but also what others around you are sharing about you. The most recent and prominent example would be Elan Gale’s live-tweeting of his feud with a woman onboard his flight to Phoenix. I do admit that I did enjoy reading the saga, but at the same time, I share Nisha Chittal’s view that we should please stop live tweeting people’s private conversations.
Public shaming is becoming more of an issue with the ease of sharing on social media. The problem with public shaming is that there is no context available – the view is most likely biased. Take the incident where the Kinetic Rain art piece at Changi Airport was damaged. In subsequent coverage, it was reported that the woman was arrested under the Mental Health Act, which probably means that she is mentally unsound. Unfortunately, that information only came after there was a barrage of xenophobic comments thrown about online.
So I guess the question remains – where do you draw the line in terms of your own privacy? How will you determine what’s “shareable”? It’s up to each one of us to decide when we will share with the world, with our family, with our business partners, with our friends.
Update on 4 Dec 2013: Here’s Leon’s slides on Slideshare: