// what do you think?


Your Privacy Was An Illusion Even Before Social Networks

I’ll start this article by telling you the number one way to keep your privacy: Don’t be anyone worth finding.

I’m not a very private type and I apologize to those of you that are and admit that I don’t have the same perspective you do. And to make matters worse, I’m American and the majority of people here in Europe have a real problem with this. I’m not trying to be insensitive, or a fatalist but your information is already out there.

We live in public and if you want to be a member of society you generate information. Your life has a paper trail. You can’t really hide from it either. I guess you can be one of these people that go “off grid” but that’s getting harder and harder to do. Even Bin Laden couldn’t do it.

You would imagine that if anyone could it would be a CIA intelligence analyst, right? Maybe not.

If you followed the post Bin Laden story of the man, “John” who was apparently “the guy” responsible for tracking down Bin Laden, he himself was relatively easily found. Not that he was actively hiding, but you get the idea.

You of course see the irony in the man who found Bin Laden, being found, right? Okay, just checking.

From the article in the NY Observer:

A few web searches turned up details of the man’s personal life. In college, he’d played basketball. No superstar by any means—he was mostly a practice player—he’d been aggressive enough to catch the eye of the team’s coach, who later spoke glowingly of John’s unusual shooting style.

The Observer also stumbled across the man’s college G.P.A. (a respectable 3.5). We grabbed his address on Lexis/Nexis and gazed down on his home via Google Maps. We checked out his children’s school and noted that his wife recently helped coordinate the school fair. We read about his son’s sports exploits, and observed with a touch of conspiratorial frisson that his father is an expert in the work of Leo Strauss, one of the patron saints of Bush-era neoconservatism.

The fact is when I get asked about weather or not I’m afraid of how much information about me is available on social networks, I can honestly say I’m not. I’m easy to find, Tac Anderson is an easy name to search for. But the reality is that the search engines know far more dangerous information on me than the social networks do.

I also understand this is a lot of the fear behind the two coming together and that it’s making it easier to find out information on people. In the end I think it’s inevitable and that we need to learn to not live lives we feel we need to hide.

We can also sit around and rely on our governments to enforce regulations and while I’m not opposed to that I think what we really need is information management tools. Tools that allow me to track what information I have out there and who has access to it. It’s impossible to control the information that’s out there but knowing who has it keeps me from being taken advantage of.

This is an emerging space and I think we’ll get there but it’s going to take time.

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

  • http://arnoldwaldstein.com awaldstein

    So… true.

    I wrote this post 14 months ago during the first big Facebook privacy uproar:

    “The best way to protect your privacy is to understand that you live in public. And act accordingly.” @ http://bit.ly/93kg63

    Still rings true today.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    It always has been, people are just now starting to realize it. Thanks. 

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