Your Online Identity – Part 6: The Privacy Aspect

Your Online Identity – Part 6: The Privacy Aspect

I often say that one of my blog post is based on a conversation “with a friend”.  When I do that, as often as not that friend is Bojan Soldan.  I have had the pleasure of working with Bojan on several projects and can think of no one’s opinion who I respect more in the fields of social media, gaming and design.  The great news for those of you who don’t get to talk to him as often as I do is that he’s decided to bring those opinions (and some of his artwork) to the worldwide web in the form of his new blog,  His first technology related posts will be a fantastic seven part series about having a true online identity, and what that might mean for us, the end users.  I’ll be cross-posting that first series here over the next couple weeks for your enjoyment, but for the rest of his work you’ll have to visit him at

The parts of this series, to date:

I had hoped that identity would be built in as part of the next iteration of the web. A Web 3.0 if you will that has the notion of a persona at the heart of it. The problem I have with the way the situation is developing right now is that I’d rather not have a corporation and much less a privately owned company in possession of my contacts, my browsing history, etc. I’m not sure who *should* own it, but I’m quite uncomfortable with who is poised to own it right now.

Facebook for example has had its fair share of privacy problems in the past. Their “social by default” philosophy leaves a little to be desired in the privacy department. I wouldn’t consider myself a privacy nut, but I do like to control what information about me is presented to the public, and what information I’d like to keep private. When Facebook first had built its integration with Pandora, it left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. One day as I was listening to some of my stations I started seeing comments such as “3 of your friends also like this song.” A quick search later, I figured out that a Pandora application had automatically been installed on my FB page, and I’d have to manually remove it.

The problem here is not that I had something on my Pandora stations that I needed to hide from my group of Facebook friends. The problem is that the information was shared without my consent and without my knowledge, which quite frankly ticked me off. This begs the question as to what else they are going to readily share without my permission, or without alerting me first. The “social by default” philosophy is basically a manual opt-out concept, which I’m OK with as long as I’m given the opportunity to opt-out before a new feature goes live.

At the current stage of development, there really isn’t much reason for concern today, but at the pace things are going, I imagine we’ll be seeing more and more potential problems arising from the consolidation of our user data.