Privacy in Social Network Sites

Privacy and Identity-relevant Information in Social Network Sites

Posts Tagged ‘Philosophy

Social Network Sites and social spheres?

with one comment

Social Network Sites (SNS) are troubled by interactions that are only possible in the cyberworld and not in real world. Because the speed of information dissemination is much higher, more people get to know embarrassing fact faster than in the real world.

For example, imagine that your soccer team has a party after you’ve won the championship. The forward takes pictures of you all: happy, singing and drunk. You don’t mind that these pictures are posted on a SNS, visible for all your friends. But your feelings toward the disclosure change when your employer or your future in-laws get access to this information. Because you are unable to distinguish between friends, employers and family, you can’t withhold embarrassing information from them.

Genome, a new Social Network Site, says to change this all. Sarah Perez mentions in her post:

“Exclusive: First Look At Genome, A Next-Gen Social Networking Service – ReadWriteWeb

Privacy: Privacy levels will be set up to mirror real-life relationships: spouse or significant other, family, best friend, friend, buddy, colleague, business partner, high school acquaintance, contact, etc. Human relationships have detailed nuances – social networks should, too.

This could prove a promising technology, as the information flow from one social sphere to another can be controlled. Jeroen van den Hoven pointed out earlier that information traveling different spheres without our consent or knowledge could severely harm us.

He bases his analysis on the work of Michael Walzer, who claimed that what is especially offensive to us and goes against our sense of justice is the transfer of goods between different spheres of justice (Van den Hoven calls them ‘social spheres). Walzers solution is to practice separation and put blocked exchanges in place. Van den Hoven applies this to the good of information. And the remedy that he proposes is exactly what Genome claims to do.

We have seen multiple Social Network Sites that didn’t live up to their expectations, especially in terms of privacy, but I can’t wait to see if this Social Network Site can live up to its claims.

David Chartier from Ars Technica is skeptical about the more fine-grained relationship definitions.

Genome plans to solve social networking data sync problem

But these are at best just a foundation for improving the value of social networking, and at worst a clunky new control layer that could bury us under even more social networking busywork. A simple, unobtrusive UI and streamlined tools that harness these relationships will be the real test of whether Genome is on to something in this area.

Written by davidrip

July 9, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with