Raw Notes from Danah Boyd keynote at SXSWi 2010

Danah Boyd - Privacy and Publicity
@zephoria
Microsoft 
http://my.sxsw.com/events/event/877
(Will: the keynotes have been moved from Ballroom A to Exhibit Hall 1. The size of it is just insane.)
  • Social media ethnographer
    • Looks at how people use social media in their lives
    • been blogging about this for 13 years
    • Wonders how does social media transform society
    • Is an activist: wants to make the future we want.
  • Everyone is involved in social media at some extent. Everyone is seeing the transformation.
  • One of the puzzles is how privacy and publicity intertwine.
  • Privacy is not dead. People care about it. But what privacy means is not necessarily what people think. Privacy is control over having what information is shared. When people feel that they don’t have control over their environment and their setting, then they feel like their privacy has been violated.
    • Recent fail: Google buzz. Google has taken a trust hit, because of people’s experience. 
      • People were given option to be part of buzz. As part of opt-in experience, they were given a default list of people that they would probably want to follow. That list of people was publicly listed in their profile.
      • Nothing they did was technically wrong, and they gave users plenty of chances to opt-out, turn things off, etc.
      • Google Mistakes
        • Google integrated a public facing system inside one of the most private systems possible. Many users thought Google was exposing their private email to the entire world. Not true, but it caused a panic.
        • Google assumed people would opt-out if they didn’t want to participate. More and more technology companies seem to think it is OK to thrust things onto user, and then back up later if people freak out.
          • People wanted to check it out, so they accepted the defaults to opt-in. But it was hard to opt-out. People got confused. Were afraid they would cancel their gmail account.
          • You want your application to go viral, but throwing everyone into the water and accepting a few drownings is not an acceptable way to do that.
        • “Hello, how are you?” is not an optimal way to start a conversation, but it is an essential social convention. Technologies frequently overlook essential social conventions in favor of optimal experiences. e.g. it’s one thing to start a conversation by volunteering your age, sex, location, but it is weird if someone else looks that up in your profile and uses that to start a conversation with you.
      • Social network types:
        • articulated (linkedin)
        • behaviorial (e.g. AT&T knows we’re all in the same room as SXSW) 
        • personal 
      • Google made the mistake of merging articulated and behaviorial social networks. We just don’t understand those kinds of networks as well as we do personal networks.
      • Just because something is publicly available doesn’t mean people want it publicized. 
  • Learning to trust
    • a conversation with a friend... you think the conversation is private, but there is nothing to stop your friend from telling others. you develop trust over time. but it can easily be broken. 
    • “walls have ears”
      • we want an architecture that protects privacy
      • but there can be eavesdroppers
      • when sitting in public...
        • you have certain expectations of who you might encounter, and the maximize number of people who could show up
          • if your mother, who lived 3,000 miles showed up, or if your entire high school class showed up, you’d freak out.
    • Online environments are harder to figure out than offline environments. we’re still trying to structure the environment and learn the norms
  • Security through obscurity
    • Technorati found that the average blog is read by six people
  • Ears and mouths
  • Early adopters are consistently surprised how communities change when adopted by the mainstream
  • Privacy Fail #2: Facebook changes in december 2009
    • Facebook asked users to change the settings for how to share information
      • 35% set their settings to be private
      • 65% unconsciously made their settings public by accepting the defaults
    • Among non-technies, Danah asked people what they thought their settings were, and what they actually work. And not a single person had settings that matched what they thought
    • People who could be at risk by sharing information publicly (e.g. teen girl with abusive father, who moved thousands of miles away to get away from him, unknowly accepted the new Facebook defaults, with the result that her information was available to her abusive father
  • PII versus PEI: personally identifiable information vs. personally embarrassing information
    • People want to share PII, they want to control PEI
    • People want to share a limited amount of information because sharing private information establishes a bond
  • Conversations in social media are public by default, private thru effort. Conversations previously are private, public thru effort.
  • People think about what they have to gain or lose by being in public
    • Teens tend to think about what they have to gain
    • Adults tend to think about what they have to lose
      • Not the adults at SXSW mostly...
  • Teens want to be seen by their peers, but they don’t want to be seen by people who have power over them.
  • People want to have things in public, but not publicized.
    • Taking something that is in public and making it more public (e.g. facebook, google mistakes) is violating the established norm
  • Teenagers want to become celebrities, but they are unaware of the actual stress and pressures of being a celebrities. Teens today were not alive when paparazzi drove Princess Di to her death.
  • Publicity
    • Many people assume that because twitter and facebook are visually similar, people use them in the same way
    • Facebook is about communicating with people you know
    • Twitter started out this way, but it has become the place for people who want to develop an audience.
    • In some cases, it can be a way to develop a level of intimacy in public: example of celebrity who couldn’t go out in public without guards, but could interact with fans via twitter
    • Teens and tweens are highly involved in twitter compared to people’s expectations
      • Justin , a teen star, was a trending topic for 18 of 20 days. 
    • Black users highly visible.
      • Many white users responded poorly
  • As a privileged person, I believe I have certain rights: to be online, to be in public, (lots more good stuff.)
    • But many people don’t have these options... people who are illegal immigrants, people who have abusive ex-partners, LGBT folks have lost jobs, been kicked out of the military.
    • Can your child’s teacher have an online profile? Can they express their religious views? Post photos from a party?
      • Offline, people can switch their context. They can put on their teacher persona when they meet a parent or student on the street. Online, people can’t change personas. 
  • Chatroulette: get randomly connected to a stranger with a video chat. You can talk to a stranger. If you don’t like it, you click next. 
    • A source of concern among adults... who worry about things like their kids getting exposed to someone’s genitalia.
    • But the site was developed by a 17 year old russian teen
    • But the stories of people using it are heartwarming. One wanted to play rockband with an audience, some want to talk to others about college, etc.
    • Odd combination of privacy and publicity. Private space (happens in bedroom, livingroom), but talking to strangers.
    • People can be geo-located based on IP address. 
  • No magical formula for privacy and publicity.
    • They are processes, evolving, being transformed.
    • No easy answer.
    • What you want today will change tomorrow.
    • How you do it in one place is very different from another place.
    • When you moved from Web 1.0 to 2.0, you deploy living code. You learn to embrace the complexity of your users. 
    • You have to figure out what people want. If you expose people, you lose trust, and may put others at risk. 
    • Parenting...
      • Forget about “back in my day”. It doesn’t exist.
      • The key is to ask questions. What are trying to achieve? How would you feel if other people were looking? 
      • You, as an adult, are not expert, so it will be something you need to figure out with your child.
    • Marketing...
      • Just because you can see someone doesn’t mean they want to be seen by you.
      • Just because you see what they are saying doesn’t mean you understand them.
    • Pew found 85% of adults want control over their information.
    • People want privacy, and they want a sense of control.
    • It’s not about having something to hide. It’s about having a sense of control. It’s about having a place to open up.
    • Angelina Jolie say she puts out so much information in public because then she could maintain some information in private. Bloggers find this too. The more they share, the more that others assume that is the whole picture. So what is left can stay more private.
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