Afternoon Inquisition

Sunday AI: Music and overly sharing

As a person of a certain age (it’s been suggested that I’m the official “SkepBiddy”), I both love and hate technology.  I love it because it’s a great outlet for my creativity. I love the challenge of making code submit to my will, and the ability to have friends all over the world that I think of as an extended family. Technology and Teh Internets are awesome.

I also hate technology and the internet because, as Scoble calls it, the “Facebook Freaky Line” seems to be pushed closer and closer each day. Privacy seems to just about not exist anymore.  You can look at the kinds of books I read. You can find out what I’m listening to on Pandora right now (currently live version of London Calling by the Clash).  You can find photos of me with my arm up a cow butt.  Those are things I’ve opted into sharing, so while it’s kinda creepy, I also find lots of fun new info that way, so it’s ok.

Except.  Now Facebook shares what news articles my friends read.  I have to opt out of sharing the coordinates of where I physically am in the world when I post or tweet.  There are apps that will tweet/share when you gain and loose weight.  A new gadget will track your movement so you can see when you are active/inactive, and keep track of what you’ve eaten.  And, of couse, it can tweet and share all of that.

Since it’s tracking your movement and location, it could in theory tell people who you are hooking up with, and where, and if it’s tantric sex or a bit of rumpy-pumpy.  (Assuming you have a sex life, of course–it would pretty much do nothing but tweet “Still sitting on my ass in front of the computer” for me.)

I find that each year what I can tolerate and what I name as intrusive–the Freaky Line–is moving a little closer.
Where is your freaky line? What information would you not be comfortable sharing?  Would just telling me what you don’t want to share cross the line? 

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.


Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

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  1. First off, don’t let the other Skepchicks get away with trying to call you a ‘SkepBiddy’! I know plenty of people of a ‘certain age’ – and many well past that – who are more tech-savvy than me, and I’ve been working with computers for over 25 years now! Might I suggest ‘SkepMatron’? Much more authoritative, I think. :)

    The only instance now where I automatically give out information as to what I’m doing is to share my music listening through – in that case, I do get a tangible benefit in return, in the form of recommendations of other music that I might be interested in.

    I used to be fairly relaxed about letting other sites share information automatically to my Facebook profile, particularly regarding campaigning and charity. But I became more uncomfortable when Facebook started doing deals to allow automated sharing of reading habits, not just recommendations. And I was pushed over the edge when Spotify (which I was a fan of) announced as part of their deal with Facebook that they would only allow new users to sign up using their Facebook account. To me, this made me feel like I was now just a tool to get more people into both Facebook *and* Spotify.

    I decided to do an audit of what information I was sharing with Facebook, and it was pretty scary toting up how many other sites were connecting to my Facebook profile. I’ve now severed just about all application links, and either created separate account logins or closed the accounts (including Spotify). I’m actively planning on deactivating my Facebook account in the New Year, as I’m not really enjoying it now, particularly since the recent update which makes it harder to ensure I’m actually getting all the stuff that my friends are posting.

    I’m happy to post links to articles, photos, videos, etc. on my Google+ stream, as it’s a lot easier to control who sees what and keep up to date with comments. I just hope that they are learning from Facebook’s mistakes!

  2. As a man of an uncertain age, I find that I restrict or disallow more and more as f/b grows. I look for more ways to restrict access to all but my friends. It may be a little futile but I feel that I move the freaky line a little further away with each step back.
    I cut out over 100 *friends* and very rarely use my real pic as my dp.
    I use twitter but no smart phone.. deactivate location apps and rarely go outside.
    I have installed CCTV at all entrances to the house with flood light and bell alarms. Should anything bigger than a moth approach, charged 240 volt 10,000 watt spinning razor wire seals the intruder in.
    I am in the process of digging an escape tunnel to back lane via the sewerage outlet.
    So as you can see, my freaky line is…… wait…..who’s that noisey!!!!!!!!

  3. What terrifies me most of all is where this information ends up, and who can access it LATER. While I’m all peachy happy keen about being fairly open about certain rather-stigmatized aspects of my life and history and body and stuff right NOW, do I *really* want someone to be able to figure out all these things thirty years down the road when I’m a SkepBiddy myself and just want to be left alone with my stories and my bon-bons?

  4. There is a fascinating argument about just this issue at the WSJ, featuring one of my fave researchers:

    “Positioning privacy and publicness in opposition is a false dichotomy. People want privacy, and they want to be able to participate in public. This is why I think it’s important to emphasize that privacy is not about controlling information, but about having the ability to control a social situation. People want to share and they gain a, lot from sharing. But that’s different than saying that people want to be exposed by others.”

  5. I just wanted to remind you that the only one who can maintain the privacy of your internet usage is YOU. Do you NEED to use Spotify in Facebook to listen to music? The desire for privacy is the exact reason why I do not use Spotify and took the further step of deleting my Facebook account. Find other ways to interact with your friends online- obscure your identity and share your usernames with friends only. It is doable.

  6. My freaky line is when people stop asking me “May I check you in?” I won’t be for the loss of privacy, but for the lost of manners.

  7. I used to be paranoid about security, but when I was in highschool I googled my name and what popped up was:

    The highschool I go to
    Pictures of me
    A local play that I volunteered to do set work on
    A homework assignment I did for a class

    None of which I put on the internet myself. Since then, you can add the address of one of the places I lived at and an incomplete work history to that list, including where I work right now. None of which I put on the internet myself either.

    I’ve heard a lot of people complain the current young generation has no sense of privacy, but the reality is at some point most of us are going to have an internet presence whether we like it or not, and people who say it’s up to you to control what about you goes on the internet are already living in the past.

    I have no doubt we’re in for some cultural turbulence as more of us have details about our lives go up on the internet. I have my hopes that we’ll grow more tolerant of human foibles and learn to be less judgmental when privacy really becomes an illusion, but I don’t know that it’s inevitable.

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