Has Social Media Killed Off Privacy?

The Social Web becomes the Intelligent Web. What with Tom Tom selling our GPS data to the police that then book us for speeding, and facial recognition connecting our faces to our social networks and the privacy implications that entails,  are we thinking enough about the big issues in our rush to upload, tag and share content in online communities?

I’ve finally figured out how to use my iPhone as a GPS Navigation system. It sits in the car now, stuck to the windscreen, giving me directions. I’ve thrown out the old system, and not before time. This week, Tom Tom, the makers of navigation systems, apologised for collecting speeding data and selling it to the Police, who then laid speed traps. Ever had a Tom Tom device say you would reach your destination in 10 minutes, and you did it in 8? Most of these GPS navigation systems are connected to the Internet in some way, so Tom Tom thought it was fair game to sell the data, to offset the diminished sales in their GPS navigation systems. I wonder if Apple will do the same with the iPhone navigation systems?

EDIT: Customers Sue Apple Over iPhone Location-Data Collection so there goes that! And Why You Should Care is a great read.

We reveal information about ourselves all the time. Do you know if you have ever been “tagged” in a photo? Tagging occurs when a friend uploads a photograph of you to Facebook or Flickr or another photo sharing site. Your nearest and dearest click on the photo and type your name, right between your eyes. The information submitted is collated across the Internet and processed automatically to do “facial recognition”. Billions of photographs – no exaggeration – are collated at Face.com “Our facial recognition analytics are able to identify faces well, despite difficult circumstances like poor lighting, poor focus, subjects wearing eyeglasses, facial hair, and even Halloween costumes.” There are plans to pull your online identities such as Facebook and Twitter into customer relationship management (CRM) systems, for sales and customer service folk.

pan your camera around the room and have facial recognition tell you the person's updates!

Oh goody! All Facebook and Face.com and Recognizr (image above) need to do is hook their systems up to the security cameras in hotels, offices and shopping malls. One day as you walk through the lobby at the Sheraton or Hilton staff are greeting you by name and making reference to your last Facebook photo. Remember, it’s not YOU revealing personal information online but friends and family and colleagues and the guy with the video at the neighbour’s birthday party. Just smile and wave at the camera, won’t you? Might as well look your best!

The generation growing up now have no expectations around personal information. Can we hold back progress? There is no point railing against the future, is there? And aren’t there positive trade-offs?  If you do feel the need to rail, please leave a comment or tweet me @SilkCharm

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    1. The burqa will definitely limit identification although I noticed Face.com can recognize you in halloween costume (makeup? hat? face covering?) so not sure how much you have to cover up to get away with staying hidden.

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