Nov 12, 2013

Youth and Privacy

Breaking news. Teenagers are scattering to other social networking sites, especially messaging apps. The Guardian explains:

"Part of the reason is that gradual encroachment of the grey-haired ones on Facebook. Another is what messaging apps have to offer: private chatting with people you are friends with in real life. Instead of passively stalking people you barely know on Facebook, messaging apps promote dynamic real-time chatting with different groups of real-life friends, real life because to connect with them on these apps you will typically already have their mobile number."

The Internet and smart phones are wonderful things, but like all such powerful tools they can bring out both the best and the worst of people. The particular problem I'm witnessing so much is people using their smartphones while driving. This is just stupid and really should be a social stigma on the order of drunk driving.

But what I liked about the article was that it showed young people struggling to bring order to the Wild Wild Web. They are figuring out how to limit their audience and their digital footprint for social acceptance. It is a subject in the media weekly.

At the same time as the Guardian ran the above article, the New York Times posted an article about social media affecting college applications. There are some truly mind-boggling stories of hormones and judgement at odds. But some students are figuring out how to navigate 
what is acceptable with their peers versus what adult society expects of them. In some cases, students are maintaining two Facebook accounts, one for their social life and one for their school and job applications:

"For their part, high school seniors say that sanitizing social media accounts doesn’t seem qualitatively different than the efforts they already make to present the most appealing versions of themselves to colleges."

And finally, in the same week, comes the heartwarming story of Max Mosley, the former head of Formula One, whose Nazi orgy was not only filmed but leaked to the world at large. Google was recently ordered to block images and videos of the orgy from appearing in its search results.

What I found so fascinating about the case are the two opposing forces:

“At this point in time, the pendulum is swinging toward individuals’ privacy and away from freedom of speech,” said Carsten Casper, a privacy and security analyst at the consulting firm Gartner in Berlin.

Google really cannot be held accountable for what other people put on their web sites. But if they show those images, can they? So far the answer is yes, they were held accountable. I don't know if this is the answer, but I'm encouraged that the question is being asked and the answers are being fought over in court.

And back to those teenagers. Maybe this points to a new generation of people who do not merely want to be famous, but who want to be seen accomplishing something.