Friday morning I got a call from a CBC reporter named Laura. She had seen me tweet that I planned to turn off Facebook Places and wanted to know more for a planned piece on the Ottawa Morning radio show. My reasons boil down to the following:
Control. Although I’m a heavy user of social media, I’ve always approached it with caution. What information do I want to share, how, and with whom? When people ask me about Facebook and privacy, my answer is pretty simple – if you don’t want pictures of yourself at a keg-party on Facebook, then don’t publish them, and don’t befriend people who would publish them without your permission. It’s early going in the location game. I’d like to see how this data will be used, and how Facebook responds to the inevitable pressure to reveal more.
Benefit. I’m a pretty heavy user of location enabled applications. However, I rarely publish my location. I’m not dating, nor do I hang out in downtown clubs waiting for my friends to join me. There isn’t an obvious purpose or benefit that I can see in publishing my location at this point in time.
Privacy. Location is pretty private information. Publishing location has risks. I rarely publish my location on Twitter or Facebook today. The accuracy available with today’s GPS enabled phones simply compounds the risk.
As I said to Laura, I’m from a generation who grew up reading and internalizing Orwell’s 1984. We are rushing headlong toward Orwell’s surveillance society, if not the dystopia he wrote about. It’s fashionable to say that privacy is dead. Perhaps it is, or perhaps we simply need better tools to manage that privacy.