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How much do you care about privacy?

April 28, 2011

I recently listed to a debate about privacy and social media on Click, a podcast from the BBC.  Jeff Jarvis was on the side of share, share, and share. On the opposing side of the argument was Andrew Keen, author of the up-coming book “Digital Vertigo: An Anti-Social Manifesto“.

Jeff Jarvis talked about how he blogged about cancer and received tremendous support from his community. his point was simple: be generous about the things you share and you will get value in return. He put himself out there and received support from his community.

On the other side of the debate, Andrew Keen wonders if privacy isn’t a critical need for humans.

It is an interesting debate. We can choose to Tweet, blog, podcast, etc. In the case of Jeff Jarvis, he made the choice to blog about cancer. This choice was made because he’s aware of the power of his community, and he knew he would get something out of it. There was value for him in engaging the community.

Are we making the right privacy choices?

I’ve blogged about the hidden data found within our posts, photos and tweets. I wonder if people are fully aware of how they can be tracked in social media. From FourSquare to GPS stamps on photos, there are many ways that we share location. The second one is rather inadvertent.

The value exchange is an important element of this debate. Mr. Jarvis was aware that in opening up about his cancer, he would get support from his community. He knew his community would engage with him on the topic. Those people shared with him because he adds value on his blog. People share because they get value from sharing.

The issue: feedback is fast becoming a confusing thing for marketers and consumers.

I don’t think most people understand the value equation of giving and receiving. 10 years ago, we guarded our e-mail addresses from brands we trusted. Now, we offer so much public information, Ad Age has an article with the title: “Does your agency need a chief privacy officer“.

We share like crazy, but do we see value in return?

I don’t happen to sit on the side of Andrew Keen in this debate. Chances are you guessed that from my blog’s title. I too share content about my life that some people think is private. But I think I have an idea about the value exchange because I tend to think about how people use social media.

I wonder if people are aware of the value of their data. In simple terms, sharing data should result in a reward. The reward doesn’t have to be money, it can be in support from your community. But there needs to be a value exchange. Simply giving out free data, sharing for the sake of it, isn’t the best way to share.

I’m not anti-social. I’m smart social. And I think brands have to fully understand this value exchange in order to build communities.

What do you think? How much do you wonder about privacy?

Also, what do you think of Click? What podcasts do you like?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Rod Gotty permalink
    April 28, 2011 12:25 pm

    I agree that “feedback” is a large part of the value proposition for sharing data; however, my fear is that the feedback I get is going to be more from organizations that have an agenda to profit from my data than from other real people simply with the desire to connect with others and share ideas. This commercialization is pervasive with our digital lives. Advertisers are striving hard to find creative ways to connect with us in order to promote their wares, resulting in money being drained from my wallet (to purchase these wares) and time drained from my life wading through all this digital advertisement. So, for me, I tend to restrict my personal information, especially with corporations unless I am convinced that it will actually provide me with a real benefit.


    • April 29, 2011 10:11 am

      I agree Rod. I think more people need to think you are: what is my data worth? Will I get the feedback I’m looking for? Is it worth it? I’m not sure enough people think about this when they share content.

  2. April 28, 2011 6:45 pm

    There’s an extended version of the Jarvis & Keen discussion from BBC Click radio at


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