Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of Mashable.com, has written an interesting opinion piece on social media and the death of privacy for CNN.com.
Cashmore lists and discusses numerous developments in social media that threaten to blow away the idea of personal privacy, including the SenseCam – a personal camera worn around your neck that will capture an image every 30 seconds to record “every moment of a person’s life”.
While the SenseCam has great potential for people with Alzheimer’s or Dementia, it brings with it significant privacy concerns.
Cashmore states —
“It’s easy to see the associated risks of a life-logging device. From stalkers to identity theft, recording such information (and to unlock its true value, posting it online) makes us vulnerable to all manner of bad actors.
But what about the cost of not sharing? In the online realm, that might mean you simply don’t exist. “
This idea of Cashmore’s seems like a utopian reach. It is understandable that Cashmore might feel that not sharing every aspect of your life online could mean a virtual non-existence since he has built a respectable blog empire promoting the new era of social networks and social media, but what about the problem of billions of egos worldwide sharing every moment of their lives in blog posts, camera captures, profile feeds and tweets?
Several problems come to mind, including: 1) millions of individual real-time reality shows and, 2) a billion big brothers running around recording every moment of their lives and yours.
Not to mention the pathetic people who are already starting to miss out on living because they are too busy recording their lives with constant personal updates on social media sites. What is next, personal stage-management services for these social media addicts?
Cashmore goes on to make some very good observations about social media sites like Flickr, Twitter and Facebook, noting that all of this public photo sharing, tweeting and social networking is contributing to the growth of the real-time web and a whole new way of sharing, searching and finding information.
Another good observation by Cashmore is how social media has opened up mass communication outlets for people who would not have been given the time of day in the old media world, noting that “the more content we share, the more connections and opportunities open up.”
In addition, Cashmore notes that we are living in a time where attention is the new currency and privacy is obscurity and, by inference, a form of poverty.
However, if enough people start walking around with SenseCams, no one will be able to “opt out” of the brave new world of social media.