Keynote speaker danah boyd: the intersection of privacy and publicity

“Be very, very careful of the tequila” – you don’t have to tell me that!

Danah Boyd is a social media researcher and ethnographer.

Privacy is about having control over how information flows. People say privacy is dead, but this is not true. People care deeply about having control over their information. Google Buzz made some key non-technological mistakes in their implementation. Gmail is a private space, but Google used it as the place to introduce public profiles. People became alarmed because they thought they were exposing private information through Buzz.

“Find your friends” – need to let users see and initiate this process. Don’t automate it – it seems too creepy.

Just because something is publicly accessible doesn’t mean people want it to be publicized. Issue of trust – I share information with you on the understanding that you will not use it in unexpected/unwanted ways.

Security through obscurity – the average blog is read by six people. You can say things in public on the assumption that not many people will pay attention.

Facebook is a medium for communicating with people you already know. Twitter is for finding an audience or following other people who attract audiences (e.g., celebrities). Teens are using Twitter this way – Justin Bieber has millions of followers and was a top trending topic for thirteen days straight.

Privacy control is critical for people who can’t be public online – teachers are an example. They will be judged and perhaps put their jobs at risk for any non-teacherly behaviour.


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