Lift10 Redefinition of Privacy: Olivier Glassey [en]

Here are my running notes of the Lift conference in Geneva. This is Olivier Glassey’s presentation “Mutual privacy and online distributed social identities“, part of the Redefinition of Privacy session. May contain errors, omissions, things that aren’t quite right, etc. I do my best but I’m just a human live-blogging machine.

Found other good posts about this session? Link to them in the comments.

How are people constructing their privacy online? Our definition of privacy is evolving fast, and we cannot control it.

Different domains: social networks and the end of privacy; false assumptions about digital natives.

Lift 10 Olivier Glassey

If we look at how people are acting online (based on research) and how they behave towards their data, we can say that part of this apocalyptic end-of-privacy thinking is based on false assumptions, particularly regarding the strategies of so-called “digital natives”.

How can we think about this evolution of privacy without falling into apocalyptic visions?

First of all, realise that online social networks are also identity playgrounds. *steph-note: reminds me of some stuff I read years ago in the Psychology of Cyberspace online book.*

Web 2.0 suicide machine. People want to play with this kind of thing, maybe researchers are mistakenly taking for granted that the online social networks they observe are both serious and stabilized.

There is a huge part of our identity that does not belong to us. It belongs to the communities and social groups we are part of. Examples: Beautiful People (being ousted from the community because one was slack about their figure over the winter) or A Small World.

Social networks are also a place of social control. On Facebook, there are expectations for your behaviour. You need to conform to some extent.

Intimacy exposure online: we don’t all agree on what is intimate and what is not (e.g. pictures of beds). Social agreement on what privacy is. A lot of agression online happens when conflicting definitions of privacy overlap.

Interesting map of greeting kisses in France: Combien de bises? => various definitions of what a normal greeting is, within one country — and also, when privacy will be breached by not conforming to the local social norm.

Social context defines the privacy of data.

Another dimension to keep in mind is the contradiction between social dynamics and online social networks. We switch roles all the time offline. Father on the phone and then colleague, we don’t speak in the same way. Incredibly complex and unconscious behaviour. A lot of the difficulties online are linked to this: these behaviours break down online. Good Turing’s test.

Social flexibility is a very different skill from fine-tuning your privacy settings on Facebook. Our natural way of doing things is to share different types of information with different people, lying (to various extents) if necessary. Building a coherent personal ethic when rules change without notice and various publics collide is very challenging.

How social are these social networks really?

How will we collectively manage the fragmented, often edited or doctored data of our past? On Facebook, we reconstruct our biographies.

The digital divide is going to be about the “haves” and the “have-nots” of online privacy reconstructions. Those who master the tools to manage their privacy and image online, and those who don’t. We’re lacking long-term thinking right now. Will online social networks allow forgiveness, forgetting? We need social memory but also amnesia.

3 thoughts on “Lift10 Redefinition of Privacy: Olivier Glassey [en]

  1. An argument for social media conglomerates not being able to steal your soul, I guess 🙂 But I’d argue that if you’re dealing with unscrupulous entities, that with enough data points they’ll be able to figure out a lot about you, “opt-in” or not.

    Each person will essentially be setting themselves up as an immense cryptographic problem, and having technologies that can solve these problems means big money for advertisers.

    Things might be getting a whole lot more disturbing soon!

    Giles Lewey, Senior Content Editor,

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