Friday, July 23, 2010

Think B4 U Post!

I'm working my way through the lengthy  NYT article on the repercussions of digital footprints, and our "constitutional right to oblivion."  (Isn't that a great phrase?)  I'm only about halfway through it, but I ran across this in its dicussion of managing our online profile, and it stopped me in my tracks:
...the Facebook application Photo Finder, by, uses facial-recognition and social-connections software to allow you to locate any photo of yourself or a friend on Facebook, regardless of whether the photo was “tagged” — that is, the individual in the photo was identified by name. At the moment, Photo Finder allows you to identify only people on your contact list, but as facial-recognition technology becomes more widespread and sophisticated, it will almost certainly challenge our expectation of anonymity in public. People will be able to snap a cellphone picture (or video) of a stranger, plug the images into Google and pull up all tagged and untagged photos of that person that exist on the Web.
This struck me as absolutely what I was talking about the other day, that we need to move beyond cybersafety. One of the key tenets of teaching online safety is "DON'T TAG PHOTOS," yet that heretofore sound advice (I actually untagged several photos on Facebook the other day) is already obsolete, giving students of false sense of security.

With the trend obviously towards greater and greater connectivity and openness, we will always be playing catch-up to  technological advances if we focus on privacy and safety.  I am in no way saying that's not part of what we should be teaching, but the emphasis needs to shift from safety to profile management and thoughtful awareness of what we post, upload, and share.

Obviously, that still only takes students so far...they have little control over what others post about them.  However, if we start thinking in those terms and are aware of what others might post or say about them, maybe they'll be slightly more careful about the situations they get themselves into, and the photos they allow to be taken.

It all just sounds too Orwellian, doesn't it?  To have to be so hyperaware all the time? Wondering how what X or Z does or says online might conceivably affect our next job interview.  Are we really ready to be judged by a "reputation score"?  Or to declare "reputation bankruptcy"? (you really need to read the article!)  But it bears thinking about, and, apparently, it's never too soon to start that process.

UPDATE:  Yes, yes, yes!!!  "Instead of suing after the damage is done (or hiring a firm to clean up our messes), we need to explore ways of pre-emptively making the offending words or pictures disappear."
 i.e. footprint management!   (grin--I'm sort of live blogging as I read the article!)

UPDATE 2:  Per Doug's comment below...  he also suggested that as all of us have to merge our public and private identities, photos showing us having a few drinks on Facebook will no longer seem so scandalous. “You see your accountant going out on weekends and attending clown conventions, that no longer makes you think that he’s not a good accountant. We’re coming to terms and reconciling with that merging of identities.”

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jeri,

    This made me wonder if eventually employers, college admissions, and even romantic partners might lower? their expectations of what may constitute "normal" adolescent behaviors?

    I suspect there are many of us (me, anyway) who have not been particularly well-behaved, but have been just clever/lucky enough not to have those bad behaviors go public. Sounds like no matter how clever or lucky we may be in the future, most of our acts will be public.

    I suppose there is also the option of only leading a sin-free life, but where's the fun in that?