Privacy Violations

All sorts of businesses are being built by violating assumptions about the privacy of data.

Flickr violated the assumption that you wanted your photos private by default. Before Flickr came along, the default photo sharing model, espoused by Shutterfly, Snapfish etc., was that of private photo sharing.

LinkedIn violates the assumption that your resumé is private.

FourSquare violates the assumption that your location is private.

Twitter violates the assumption that some of your thoughts are private. violates the assumption that your mobile photos are private.

Blippy is testing the assumption that some of your financial transactions are private.

All of these services take your original notion and need for privacy, and trade them off against your need for fame and recognition.

What’s next?

28 thoughts on “Privacy Violations

  1. An activity feed of your sexual activity.

    Because after all, sex is how anything in life starts with, so I’m sure we’ll end up there eventually. 🙂

  2. The users of these sites are trading their privacy for the value the site delivers (such as it may be). I disagree with you that the trade is for “fame and recognition,” though. Unless you are equating connecting with people/keeping in touch with recognition…

  3. Hashable violates the assumption that introductions and personal interactions are private.

    Nice analysis.

  4. So do we have a new generation that is growing up with no expectation or sense of privacy? The difference between what is considered public and private is largely a social construct. What should be private? Why? (Do you have something to hide?)

    These are all interesting questions.

  5. I’m with Elias on this one, in part. I personally think that a live feed of everyone’s sexual activity would have a Kinsey-Report effect; Seeing everyone else’s supposed “diversions” from the norm should show people just how broad “normal” sexual behavior actually is.

    Most people are way to prudish about their sexual behavior, though, and instead would just react really negatively. I suspect there is an evolutionary benefit to protecting that information, so it’s probably ingrained.

    Frankly, though, I’d love to be proven wrong on this.

  6. This is a great article. It illustrates the erosion of online privacy a site at a time. A couple years ago I decided that perhaps there would be a market for a site that protects that online privacy using strong end-to-end encryption, yet provides the means to socialize with specific groups of individuals that your define and have control over. The site is live, but I won’t pimp it here. What I want to add to the conversation is that our signup rate is now 1-in-10 new visitors. That tells me there is a desire to have that capability even though it won’t replace other social networking sites for harmless banter. Our site is still in the stealth category but you can find us by googling “private secure encrypted”.

  7. Email could be an interesting medium to open up — who are you emailing and who is emailing you?

  8. Health data, including medical records and genomics, should go on this list. And some startups are already starting to violate the privacy assumption there.

  9. One of our hypotheses at Leanpub is that most books should be written in public rather than in private, and that you get a much better book (and better sales!) if you do so.

  10. Great article,never thought in this direction. Eating habits are consider very private, this would make public with integration of health awareness….

  11. Very thought provoking!! Trying out a new premise on where everyone can be traded (based on their T$) inclusive of live persons as well as fictitious companies. Since financials are not apparent or easily available, can we replace financials with influence (followers, popularity, reach)?

  12. Actually, speaking about the topic of violations, how about a list of websites that succeed by initially violating the terms of service?
    (1) Google started by scrapping data off any website, irregardless of terms of service violation…
    (2) Zynga started Texas Holdem Poker in Facebook when Facebook plainly says no gambling.
    (3) uses a service Yodlee that scraps financial websites to get user data.

    I guess the idea is that if you think there is a market need, just ignore the conventional wisdom…

  13. I think that you can strike a balance between privacy and social, and also put the users in control. Sections of the population will want to share everything, and others, much less is nothing. At (founder), we allow users to selectively share their future locations and activities with their social network. Re-connected is the next wave after being e-connected.

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  15. October 5, 2011 This guy has ptesod so many times about me and my sick chicken Pearl that I can’t decide if he has a crush on me or is just morbidly obsessed with reading about animal deaths. Shit, I didn’t even read my own post as many times as he seems to have read it. Like, you wouldn’t watch Shoah (9 hour documentary on the Holocaust) repeatedly because that would be totally fucked up and distressing. I think this guy is an animal death pervo and I for one would like him to stop stalking me (and you!). Gives me the freakin’ creeps.

  16. stock transactions used to be private, companies taking a shot now at the friend model

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