The lines between safety, privacy, and access are blurring like that chalk hopscotch board the kids drew on your sidewalk on a sweltering day in July. Google tells me that their privacy rules are changing, all the better for me to share across multiple platforms and so on. Since Facebook already tracks my friends and interests, and it’s become clear that Google Earth knows where I live and that I don’t even have a sidewalk for chalk drawings (you know the satellite can see your house, right?), what difference could it possibly make?
But wait. Then I read Josh Bernoff’s Empowered post: Five Stages in Dealing with Google’s Control of Your Data and I began to worry. Does Google really need to know everything about me? If Google is telling me it’s okay, should I assume the opposite? My life is quite ordinary and I’ve nothing to hide, but shouldn’t it be my choice to share or not share? Apparently by using Google and joining online communities like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, I’ve made that choice, carefree of the consequences. There’s no undoing it now.
Our private business is increasingly public. With that in mind, I recommend you treat your online connections as politely and considerately and with as much aforethought as you would in person. Keep your parental and spousal grievances, drunken rants, mean-spirited text messages and other dirty laundry off the internet. Facebook, Twitter, and Google are forever.
Sidewalk Chalk Art photo credit: Blog of Francesco Mugnai