Posts Tagged ‘privacy’

Privacy in social media – can it exist?

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 by Ghida Basma


Social Media has completely changed our views on privacy, as we embrace new thoughts about what we should and shouldn’t share with others.

Since the digital revolution, social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have taken all over our lives at an extremely fast pace, redefining the importance of privacy and our relationships with each other.  Today, we want people to follow us, add us, embrace our views and look at our pictures and posts. In the past, it was the complete opposite.

We are hooked to our computers or mobile phones and spend countless hours checking Facebook pages or updating our Twitter feeds. We have this growing urge to stream our daily activities and thoughts for the viewing pleasure of others. A few years back, such a thing would have been regarded dangerous and unacceptable.

Social media platforms have become an alternative channel for direct social interaction between individuals, making it possible to know other people’s news, simply by reading their newsfeeds or status updates. A social media account has become part of who we are, it defines us and affects how people relate to us. Even companies rely on them to identify potential job candidates.

Indeed, an increasing amount of our personal lives is not necessarily private any more, though privacy can still be protected through personal choice. If we don’t want to expose our experiences, thoughts, or personalities, we have the option to not open a social media account.

The key question, however, is whether we can really afford not to!?



Burson and Facebook’s reputation lesson

Friday, May 13th, 2011 by Jon Clements


Update: Now, Burston-Marsteller is outed for deleting negative comments on its Facebook page…

When the news broke yesterday about PR firm Burson-Marsteller’s covert campaign to rubbish Google on behalf of Facebook, I had to check the date. Had we, somehow, returned to April Fool’s Day; was this an elaborate hoax.

Alas, for BM, Facebook, the reputation of both (and the PR industry generally), it was 12 May.

If you haven’t yet heard, Facebook hired the PR company to place stories in high profile media such as the Washington and Huffington Post attacking arch rival Google’s privacy policies in relation to its social networking feature, Google Social Circle.

The plot was outed when journalists challenged BM about their “unnamed client” and the anti-Google campaign, and Facebook eventually came clean. The PR company later released its own statement on the debacle, saying: “This was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined.”

It added, by way of justification, that “any information brought to media attention raised fair questions, was in the public domain, and was in any event for the media to verify through independent sources.”

Well, all of the above may be so. But it begs the questions: who thought that launching a smear campaign on behalf of a mystery “other” was a good PR strategy that would skip along unquestioned and unchallenged before being, ultimately, exposed? Did no-one involved in communications on either client or agency side raise a hand to say ‘I know this is the way you want to go, but this could go horribly, horribly wrong’?

Rather than having to concoct damage limitation statements about “public domain” information – insinuating that there was some casual, benign purpose in Facebook/BM’s story – wouldn’t it have been better for PR professionals to bury this campaign at birth? Surely, with BM’s “double-digit revenue growth” last year, it doesn’t need the money that badly to engage in dubious client projects.

At the discussion stage of this campaign – regardless of what column inches the client may have been salivating about with this story – good client counsel should have been focused on the more important element of reputation. Not least because Facebook’s own record on privacy issues has been under fire.

Not one for grandiose statements, the Guardian’s technology editor, Charles Arthur, described it as “an epochal moment”.

Neither Facebook nor Burson-Marsteller has come out of this well. And thinking, selfishly, from a purely PR industry position, we’re all the poorer for it.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Facebook – an invasion of privacy?

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010 by Jon Clements

Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, appears unperturbed by accusations surrounding his company’s attitude to the privacy of the online network’s 500 million active users.

Surely, that’s a lot of customers to risk upsetting?

Today’s quotes from Zuckerberg’s interview in the New Yorker magazine in which the Facebook CEO says: “A lot of people who are worried about privacy and those kinds of issues will take any minor mis-step that we make and turn it into as big a deal as possible.” His mission is apparently “trying to make the world a more open place”.

Ironically, as journalist Jose Antonio Vargas points out in his New Yorker interview, Zuckerberg “remains a wary and private person. He doesn’t like to speak to the press, and he does so rarely. He also doesn’t seem to enjoy the public appearances that are increasingly requested of him.”

On his own Facebook page, he comments in one update: “For those wondering, I set most of my content on my personal Facebook page to be open so people could see it. I set some of my content to be more private, but I didn’t see a need to limit visibility of pics with my friends, family or my teddy bear :)”  (note: smiley face is his, not mine)

So is privacy a movable feast for Facebook and its boss?

As the company strives to persuade its users and the world at large, Facebook privacy control is at your fingertips. But how can you be sure you understand the way privacy settings work? The functionality’s in-built “recommended” settings make some rather arbitrary assumptions about what should be visible and to whom. And how many users have delved even that far into managing their public profile? 

An interesting/disburbing post from David Iwanow, marketing director of The Lost Agency, suggests that Facebook is actively mining contact details from email accounts and representing them as possible “friends” to connect with via the Friend Finder function. This can mean it suggests anyone you may have ever had contact with via email.

Iwanow muses: “how much can you put up with Facebook using your own profile information for its internal marketing purposes?” It’s a fair question, but do users feel that allowing the network to go about its business of building a highly targeted, worldwide, consumer database is simply a fair exchange for the fun they get from sharing multimedia content and jokes with their friends?

It’s been said that at age 26, and despite the business behemoth he gave birth to, Zuckerberg doesn’t yet have the maturity to appreciate the nuances of personal privacy and why it’s important.

A final quote from the New Yorker piece: Danah Boyd, a social-media researcher at Microsoft Research New England, added, “This is a philosophical battle. Zuckerberg thinks the world would be a better place-and more honest, you’ll hear that word over and over again-if people were more open and transparent. My feeling is, it’s not worth the cost for a lot of individuals.”

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''