Monday, September 28, 2009

"DataPervability" - social media and setting the right example for younger generation

DataPortability is a movement that advocates the ability for a user to extract their data from a social network or other on-line systems/community.

DataPervability riffs/remixes the term to ask the question:

Why can people perve anothers data/lifestream anonymously?

Surely it should be a reciprocal agreement?:
  • You can see me, so I should be able to see you (if I or my parents care)
  • Social networks are NOT brochureware websites - just because your profile is on some webserver doesn't mean the social contract is the same.

One of my interests in social media anti-patterns is based on establishing "norms" or "best practices" that protect the vulnerable in the community from malicious acts and actors. Look under the covers of online dating, gaming, auctions and their is plenty of grey activity that leverages information that people are willing to share. This

I've not seen sustained dialog (please correct me if I am wrong) about these elements of social media - possibly because:
a) all the early adopters are still in the hype cycle.
b) all the early adopters are consenting adults.

But we (those building and evangelizing social media) need to step back from enamorment of this new media/conversation and balance with the potential impact on the younger generations that will just "grow into" this technology.

As adults, we joke about who is "stalking" us, or how we spent some voyeuristic quality time trawling someones twitter feed or flickr photos. Have you ever wondered why you can't see a "friend-of-a-friends" Facebook profile but you can see their photos (or maybe its just everyone's photos?*) - thats just plain spooky right?

But what does that mean to kids "growing-into" Facebook or Twitter now? - as they enter these networks, who explains to them in a logical factual (not hysterical fear driven) fashion - what are the risks and traps. Its fine if kids don't care about DataPervability but at least I know.

The Australian Government (ACMA) has started some education on cyber-bullying and the overwhelming feedback from their research is the kids are aware of the technology but have not heard enough anecdotes or war stories about the down-sides. "Stranger Danger" is a paranoid response but adults and social media evangelists can take a leadership position in ensuring the kids and teens become as savvy as they think they are.

Reciprocity...Look at it this way: If you own a normal website:
  • You can use analytics to profile your users.
  • You can ask users to log in and self-verify their email address before they can access confidential parts of the site.
  • You can even use tools like LeadLander to identify what organization visits
So, why is it that Social Networks provide casual browsing of your profile, activities and friends (some Facebook API programs can get a whole lot of data) without give ANY analytical feedback to you? Its crazy.

When Facebook delivered an API, we tried to build a "Who's checking me out?" application,

This is not a Facebook bashing post - its just about the anti-patterns - it applies to all social media sites and evangelists. How will you protect the social sovereignty (privacy) of the users that help build your communities?

* I simply don't have time to figure out all the nuances of Facebook privacy, nor should I or anyone else. It should be clear, understandable and controllable based on clear and accessible user profile setup (but thats the topic of another post).

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