October 02, 2013

My views on online privacy vs. publicness

Three things, one a few months ago, one a couple of weeks ago, and one earlier this week, prompted this post.

The first was a Facebook thread by Bora Zivkovic of Scientific American about the privacy of emails, i.e., being quoted from them by someone else. I said that journalists should make clear that the emali is for interview purposes, even if from a corporate account, not a personal one, but that at the same time, one shouldn't assume that it's not. I added that, my opinion was that, if it was a private email, not just from or to a journalist, but from a fellow blogger, the email content should not be blogged about in a general way, let alone quoted, unless it's understood in advance that will be the case.

I still hold to that. And, even when I contact someone's corporate email about a corporate action, unless I've made clear in advance that I'm blogging about it, I don't quote the person by name, and I reference the email in as general a way as possible.

The second was a Facebook post by Dan Fincke, connected to a long blog post of his. It was primarily about online civility in comments on Facebook and blog comment threads. I don't do a lot of censoring (using that word colloquially, as I am not a government agent) but do reserve the right to terminate comment threads here or on Facebook. Since this blog is on moderation because of a rise in spam, that's easy here.

But it also led me to observations about privacy in social media, which connects to Bora, who is SciAm's blog editor.

On Facebook, I never post to "public." It's normally "friends of friends," though it may be tighter than that. Given stories about current and potential future employers poring through Facebook is one reason. Doing anything I can to slow down Dear Leader and the NSA is another.

If you never post to public, I treat your comments on Facebook just as confidentially as an email between two private individuals. Ditto for FB messenging.

On the flip side, if your status is normally posting in "public," I'm less likely to comment on your posts. Much less likely.

I have various lists, too, like "skeptical friends" and others. Sometimes I post just to them. I also have lists like "very religious friends," in case I wants some people NOT to see some of my posts.

On Google Plus, I normally post as "public," mainly because it's much less popular than FB. However, it is a Google product, making it more readily searchable. Plus, Google is trying more and more to force G+ upon more of us as a cross-Google platform universal ID, including for here at Blogger, which I resist.

Anyway, otherwise, privacy rules there are similar to Facebook.

Twitter? It's public by its very nature. You respond to a Tweet by me, unless you deliberately make it private, it's fair game. Likewise for what I send you.

The third relates to the header of this post's "versus."

Any corporate email address is public. I don't post private email addresses on FB or G+, but have no problem with doing that with corporate addys on either one, or here in this blog. Unfortunately, I ran into an unexpected difference of opinion with someone somewhere.

That's all I can say about what happened.

But, on my side of the road, I can say that a corporate address, especially when it's publicly posted on a corporate website? It seems ... I'm sorry, it seems ridiculous, there's no other word for it, to consider that private information. Why do we have corporate websites and email, otherwise? Even more so given the specific nature of the specific corporate email address, and the situation behind it, that led to me discovering this difference of opinion. And, that's all I can say about that.

That said, some things, like that last paragraph, are judgment calls. The other person in this situation may even feel that what I just said is too much. But, that too is part of my judgment call. I did not write the graf just about out of a passive-aggressive stance, (which I may have done when I reposted one of the links from his FB thread, with the particular person's email address in my first comment) but because as the third point of issue, following those two above, I decided I needed to write this.

Anyway, I am curious about other people's stances. Overall, I'm not a Luddite about the Net, privacy issues included, but as a regular blogger about "the dark side of the Internet," I do always cut the cards.

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And, one note, re corporate email addresses. If I contact you, and am blogging about it, and you don't respond, I treat it just like a "no comment" or "refused to respond" for a newspaper story. The non-response gets mentioned.

I didn't mention LinkedIn. I do NOT use it as a "social media" site. I have an account because it's become semi-de rigeur for job seekers to have one. I use it for that purpose ONLY, and loathe how it's tried to make itself into something more.

Oct. 24, 2013: LinkedIn's latest spamminess? This idea of intruding into your personal email flow. 

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