[Air-l] Facebook protests

Charles Ess cmess at drury.edu
Thu Sep 7 05:13:18 PDT 2006

> What a person put on Facebook is like things you put on their front lawn. a
> person has no control over who drives by. They have little or no control
> over how the city can change things to push more traffic past your house.
> All they can really control is what is in your front lawn. None of the
> information that Facebook is using is obtained without consent of the user.
> The consent they give by making a profile and uploading information.

What an interesting discussion - one that requires much more thought and
time -
but one minor comment:
I'm not sure this analogy is quite right.  Whatever can and needs to be said
about users' expectations (naïve and otherwise) - Facebook does provide some
measure of privacy protection: that is, _unlike_ the front lawn where I have
no control over who drives (or walks) by - users can keep their profiles and
groups private in varying degrees if they so chose. (E.g., a student in my
class group on FB locked her profile to everyone but her identified
"friends" - thanks to her mother's worry! - so that I and some other members
of the class could only see her listed in the group, but not get to her

I'd suggest that these degrees of control contribute to users' sense of some
degree of privacy (however far other expectations of privacy are indeed
naïve) - and that part of the issue here is the violation of this sense /
expectation by the feeds.

Sure, the information was always "there" - but just as data mining is so
interesting (and dangerous) because it uncovers patterns that were "there"
in the data, but not discerned until data mining techniques are applied, so
the feeds bring to the foreground extant information in ways (including,
perhaps, patterns?) that are surprising, perhaps disturbing, etc.
(perhaps a questionable analogy of my own?)

on we go - thanks, everyone, most interesting!
- cX

Distinguished Research Professor,
Interdisciplinary Studies <http://www.drury.edu/gp21>
Drury University
900 N. Benton Ave.              Voice: 417-873-7230
Springfield, MO  65802  USA       FAX: 417-873-7435
Home page:  http://www.drury.edu/ess/ess.html

Information Ethics Fellow, 2006-07, Center for Information Policy Research,
School of Information Studies, UW-Milwaukee
Co-chair, CATaC conferences <www.catacconference.org>
Vice-President, Association of Internet Researchers <www.aoir.org>
Professor II, Globalization and Applied Ethics Programmes

Exemplary persons seek harmony, not sameness. -- Analects 13.23

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