Is Privacy Really Dead?

Yes, I’m still focused on Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Great book! Go read it.

This wasn’t really a huge point in Michael’s book, but he did mention privacy (and I saw a Twitter discussion about privacy in recent weeks, so it’s something I had been thinking about).

Here’s what Michael said, on page 166:

“For all practical purposes, privacy is dead … You might as well intelligently feed the Google search engines with what you want people to know about you. You need to be smart about it, but you are in control.”

I don’t think privacy is really dead – and I don’t think Michael Hyatt really thinks that either, based on what he said at the end of that quote – “you are in control.”

I think that’s an important point to make – you are in control of what you share. Yes, if you do a Google search on me, you can find my address (even an aerial shot of my house), a bunch of pictures of me, some pictures of my family, a photo or two of me when I was younger, where I’ve worked since college, a list of (some) books I’ve read, etc.

Then, if you start reading my posts, especially my social media posts, you might find out a few more personal details about me.

But guess what? That’s all info that I’m ok sharing. I have chosen to share most of that stuff. Yes, this is a weird time – so things like my annual salary or an aerial photo of my house are publicly available, and there’s not a lot I can do about that (and I really don’t care about those things).

But the stuff I think of as private – really personal details about my family, for example – I don’t share online. Religious beliefs? I have ‘em. I share a little bit on social media, mostly via photos (I lead worship at my church – whoops! I just shared something!), so you might see a photo of my guitar at church. To me, those are more “let’s grab some coffee and chat” types of things.

But my point – there is still info about me that I control. How? Simple – those things don’t get put online.

Is privacy dead? Nope. Is it easier to accidentally share globally? Yes. Do we need to figure out our social media privacy settings? Yes. Do we need to figure out our “publicly shared comfort level?” Probably so.

Lots to think about, huh?

Funny Venn diagram from Rob Jewitt

  • infophiliac

    This strikes me as two very different definitions of “privacy.” The old definition, which may be what Hyatt was implicitly using, was about being to be unobserved. I find Altman’s ideas of “privacy regulation” to speak more directly to what we want online, and this is closer to what you’re getting at.

    I don’t inherently consider sharing information to be a loss of privacy (e.g., if I tell my significant other a very personal piece of information, I still feel as though I have privacy), but when I lose the ability to control the audience for that information (e.g., if my significant other includes my very personal information in a public post on Facebook), I do feel the loss.

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  • davidleeking

    Cool thoughts! I like the idea of privacy regulation – I think that works well in this more open, emerging social setting.

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