Digital World: Social Media’s Reality Clarity.

One of the regular questions I get is on privacy in the emergence of various digital native oriented services, such as socially integrated financial services, mobile oriented contextualisation, socially aware deals, and more. The continual concern is that cross pollination of consumer data across networks is a unwelcome sharing of information on ourselves. Many believing that this will lead to fraud, freaks, and negative consequences in a digital world. This is predominately drive by a generation that raise an abundance of scare tactics and hype around the evil side of data sharing in a digital world, purely because they don’t understand either the technology or a behavioural shift.

YGens, don’t intrinsically have the this concern, as they grown up in a digital value exchange world, where they are comfortable sharing personal data when its used to create value. Take all the data Facebook collects on an individuals profiles, likes, music, movies, hobbies, places, connection, etc. Lauren Hockenson wrote a elaborate coverage of 7 key primary issues on Mashable  In isolation, this could be perceived as data adultery used to create direct marketing, or an intrusion of one’s privacy. But what it actually does is add contextualised value enhancements through recommendations, suggested friends, groups, brands, optimised adverts, and more. Essentially making an individuals Facebook experience specific to them as an individual. But the powerful side of the Open Graph lies in its application outside Facebook, such as Third Parties plugging into the OpenGraph to add value to the experience they offer. Common examples these days are News, Sports and Content services. In her article on Social Media Examiner, Maya Grinberg, writes a strong case for why a service provider would integrate with Facebook.

In the pre-Facebook era, individuals were very privacy aware, while the Internet was in ties infancy we were lead to believe that hackers were out to get us. Another large contributor to the perceived risks is what I call life face isolation. Prior to having a digital footprint, it was quiet easy to wear a a different mask in each part of a lives, family, friends, work, groups, etc. Very rarely would your work colleagues get a glimpse of your weekend hobby of re-enacting medi-evil battles, or rarely would your family members read your professional profile. This facial isolation allowed us to live separate with several personas with little risk of them involuntarily crossing over. Worried that we’d be judged, we kept these personas deliberately apart, which created an internal perceived risk, when these personas went online, raising questions like, would you friend your parents on Facebook, risking they’d see photos of you after a few drinks at a party, would you friend a work colleague and live in fear that something could bite you back in your professional life?

We’re long past the days when people identified themselves online by names such as NightStalker33 and HotChick69. With the rise of social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Foursquare, we have become accustomed to sharing “real” details about our lives online. Consequently, the use of pseudonyms on social networks has become more of a rarity, as anonymity loses its credibility on the Web and is in many cases, banned altogether.

I propose that the digitalisation of our lives, along with the implementation of our true selves, coupled with the eventual cross pollination of our personas actually promotes truth and accountability. By opening our lives in a digital world, where everything is recorded, we are subject to greater scrutiny against our true selves. Mark Zuckerburg has been repeatability quoted as outlining a strategy for Facebook at promotes real person to person connections, only in a digital world. Thus Facebook built a model where is promotes the idea of real individuals, unlike MySpace’s history with fictitious personas and personalities. While it maybe consider a breach of our privacy, this model prevents us from changing masks amongst various audiences. But best of all, it helps service providers optimise experiences specific to an individual, as opposed to a segmented persona.

My best advise therefore if we envision a life in Digital & Social Media, we would be best placed to simply just be ourselves. Maybe this will include putting our best game face on, being being responsible 24/7, for even that is truly part of  who we are. But remember… sooner or later, no matter how hard we even try to put up a game face, our true self will eventual show itself. Thus, we are always responsible for who we really are, what we do and what we say.

If you don’t want to be fired for mouthing off about your company, resign or don’t mouth off.

That’s got to be a good… right?

© Scott Bales 2014. All Rights Reserved.