Thursday, 20 October 2011

Privacy and Publicity

The keynote today was from Danah Boyd, a senior researcher at Microsoft, and was about privacy issues faced by young people using social media. Excellent thought provoking talk. The following are notes of the main points, haven't got time to turn it into a proper post.

Privacy is a complex issue to young people, especially around social media. Its about the freedom to control a situation.

Why do young people participate in social media?. It becomes an absolute social necessity. The equivalent of the mall. You go to see and be seen. Failure to participate means you're excluded from a lot of social culture. Facebook the dominant player. Ynd people tell you that you're expected to be on Facebook. If not, you'll be asked why and you'd better have a good reason.

Facebook, text messaging are the main ones at he moment, but will change. There will be shifts and transitions. Already are niche sites eg tumblr, twitter. But what drives particpation is the ability to be there because everyone else is there. Theres a constant flow of information.

Concept of the networked public. Spaces that are constructed through networked technologies as well as the imagined communities formed by people coming together.
People want to be in a public, but don't want everything they've said to be public for the world to see.

Teens recognise that a fundamental change is happening. Things are becoming public by default, private by effort.
Need to make choices over what to make private. It's easier to make things public than private. Eg post all photos, tag, wait for people to complain before remove them. Share first, take down later.

But there's still private communication in all of these networks. People choose what to make private. Most is public. Why bother hiding it?

Password sharing very high, probably about 50%. Yng people say it's a way of feeling connected. Very difficult for us to understand!

Young people are learning about different audiences. Eg employers. They're learning, put things up, take them down. Unexpected audiences are a real challenge to them.
Quotes from teenager: " I wouldn't go to my teachers page and look at their stuff, so why should they look at mine"
"Facebook is for friends, not for my mum, why doesn't she understand that"
"Everyone disappears after the mom post".
They need parents to understand social boundaries - Just because it's accessible doesn't mean you're welcome.

Interesting strategies that young people use to achieve privacy:
Asserting social norms. Eg status updates directed at different people. Get cross when the wrong people comment. Use different type of language when addressing different audiences.
Use technology. Eg block certain people from seeing certain things.
White walling. Log in everyday and remove posts from day before. Make Facebook real time.
Deactivate accounts when not being used. When not logged in, can't see anything. Becomes synchronous.
Hide the meaning of things by usingg references eg song lyrics that your friends will understand but your family won't. Access to meaning separated from access to content.

Social media has made things more visible. Lot of experimentation with how to make things private. Kids are not inherently digital natives. Not born knowing how to handle these issues.

We need to know about these issues so that we can help them navigate the complexity.
We can ask the critical questions to make people think and reflect and see things from a different perspective. Not judgemental ones.

Huge challenges we have to deal with in terms of giving students opportunities, but deal with privacy issues. Can't just expose them. We have to put down frameworks to help them. We have to understand the complexities of privacy and publicity in order to help them.

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