[Air-l] air-l Digest, Vol 26, Issue 6

Jonathan Sterne jonathan.sterne at mcgill.ca
Thu Sep 7 08:07:10 PDT 2006

I've been reading the facebook thread with interest.  I don't think the
issue is privacy, but with presentation.  There is definitely a "stalker"
vibe to how the feeds read.  As far as I can tell, though, it is possible to
delete items from your own feed.  So someone could easily delete everything
if they want no news in their feed, or be selective about it.

People have long made mistakes in negotiating issues of self-presentation in
their lives, and social networking software simply documents those mistakes.
Which rightly makes students more nervous, since many of them are still
working it out.  We're debating this like it's all crystal clear to everyone
what should be public and what should be private, or that the distinction
itself is a hard social reality just because it's how the law deals with
issues of personal information.  It's certainly NOT clear to students, it's
not even that clear to facebook's designers, and I'd also submit that in
most of our lives -- in actual practice as opposed to legal definition --
there's a huge grey area where most personal information lives.  Not totally
private, and not fully "public domain" either.


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