Independent Thinking Blog

Whose Privacy?

A colleague e-mailed me the other day to warn me:

Perhaps you aren’t aware, or care, but when I was trying to change my privacy settings, I noticed something about you… Your [Gmail] contact listing showed all your tweet history. I went to “Dashboard” scrolled down to “Social Circle and Content.” Your name was shown as the only one with content and then the listings. I guess that is what tweeting is about.


I just thought this might be a privacy issue for you as well because other contacts can also see it if they have Gmail?


I really appreciate that she cared enough to e-mail me (and I immediately said  “thank you” and tried to explain why I was okay with this). But I was struck by the fact that this had raised a red flag. After all, I knew Gmail was rolling out  a new social connectivity feature–and I already use the very robust Rapportive to keep tabs on my contacts’ online activities.

But that’s me, and many of the people in my network.

And it wasn’t this person, or most of the people in her social and professional circles.

It’s useful to be reminded that the online world is still pretty small. We tweet, we tweetchat, and we put our “public-private” lives out there. To me, the only difference between doing this on Twitter and doing it at a conference or a cocktail party is the bigger paper trail.

But lots of people haven’t dipped their toes in. So we have work to do.

Photo by Lel4nd (Flickr).

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