Stormy Peters recently tagged me to post seven items about my life. This is a “viral” pyramid scheme; you are supposed to write these seven items and then tag seven other people to do the same. It is not the first time I got such a request; I also got tagged on Facebook to post 25 items about my life, and in general it is quite tempting to let your personal thoughts hang out on a blog like this.
I usually ignore such requests for reasons of privacy. Everything you do or say on the Internet can be used at some future point in time. The saying “on the Internet, nobody knows you are a dog” is completely wrong; on the Internet anyone with enough resources cannot only know you are a dog but can also know everything about you down to hereditary diseases—even things you may not know yourself. Or, as Scott McNealy is famous for saying: “You have no privacy. Get over it.”
Here then seven things about my take at privacy in the Internet age:
- The only way to have some privacy is to decouple your private from your professional Internet life; this is not a soft border, it is a hard border;
- Still, it is impossible to not to be on the Internet; the opportunity cost of being a luddite is much higher than the safety of withdrawal;
- I find it hard not to mix the professional and the personal on services like Twitter; thus, I need to learn to act in context and with clear goals;
- You need to pick your fights to not spread yourself too thin; this means, for example, that you won’t find me commenting on politics on this blog;
- It also means that I respect other people’s privacy; I don’t give out email addresses or tag people on Facebook or Flickr without permission;
- Mistakes will happen as we are learning each new social software service; paranoia and humor will help us survive, public policy must follow;
- I also think that this take on privacy is context-dependent; if I were a politician, I would have to revise some of this for public interest.
I believe that is is flattering to be tagged by Stormy but I also believe that pyramid schemes like this should come to an end so I won’t tag someone else.