Privacy in Public, Gone Forever?


Central Park, Memorial DayThis post could readily talk about the disappearance of privacy in private. From Nixon to Sterling, private conversations have been recorded and shared for years. Whenever you have a private conversation, you are trusting the people you are talking with to not share it with others beyond any implied understanding.

Being out in public has traditionally offered up more privacy. Any spy movie you watch throws in at least one scene base upon that fact. They always meet in a public spot where there are a ton of witnesses but nobody who will notice two people talking. Why would they? There are people having conversations everywhere.

All that is changing.

I am not talking a police state or about all the cameras that are going up everywhere for public safety. There are a lot of siloed systems inside individual establishments that are not linked to a broader network. The world of 1984 is not here yet, no matter what television tells us.

I’m talking about social media.

Social Media’s Evolution

I’ve talked in the past on how social media can give us the illusion of strong relationships with people. This doesn’t mean that I don’t use social media. I do, quite a bit. I’m active on twitter, this blog, and I use Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook regularly. I will likely use other platforms as the people I want to connect with become scarcer where I happen to be.

https://wordofpie.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/1392727208909.jpgThe issue is that as more people start using social media, more and more of our lives are going online. Snippets of conversations are being recorded in twitter. Comments about people on the flight with us with pictures of people boarding the same flight in a nearby tweet. Look at the picture to the right. I took it of St. Basil’s Cathedral when I was in Moscow and shared it on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Think that gentleman taking a selfie wanted to be in my social network stream?

With facial recognition entering all the social media platforms, and becoming as accurate as people, how much privacy do you think you have? It isn’t enough for the pictures you take to be protected, but everyone has to lock their pictures down for privacy to be a reality.

I don’t see the new generation locking things down except to hide things from their parents. I don’t see every platform allowing it either. Twitter pictures are there in the open if you are, and who isn’t?

What now?

Living with Big Brother?

We learn to live with it.

Seriously. That is our option. This is a part of our privacy that we are slowly going to lose. In ten years, it will be possible to determine where someone is on any given day without any special access.

And it won’t be Big Brother’s fault.

Sure, private conversations will still exist if you are cognizant of who might be listening for a funny comment or observation. Who you are talking to will be knowable.

We think of the slogan, What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas. We need to start thinking about the rest of our lives. While my life is not loaded with dark secrets, it is my life. I broadcast what I want and don’t broadcast the parts that I feel are private.

Maybe we need to all start thinking about what our privacy means to us before the option of having privacy is gone forever.