Thursday, September 30, 2010

LRB · Thomas Jones · Short Cuts

Excerpt from a review of  The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over New Media (alas, no Kindle sample available)

Gershon’s book made me feel old, or at least on the older side of a generation gap: mine (1995-98) must have been one of the last cohorts of students among whom users of mobile phones and email were in a minority – we had pigeonholes for leaving each other handwritten messages and a payphone in the laundry. Gershon’s interviewees are permanently plugged in to any number of virtual communication networks. They also seem comfortable with astonishingly low levels of privacy. Or rather, like a group of teenagers on a bus, they behave in public as if they were in private. One of the insidious things about Facebook is that it encourages a false sense of privacy, the idea that you’re among friends, when in fact it’s a very public place. If one of my friends, for example, makes a comment on a photo of one of their friends that’s been posted by one of their friends’ friends, it gives me access to all of that person’s photographs. Pictures you think you’re sharing only with your friends are, potentially, viewable by half a million strangers. So privacy on Facebook, such as it is, largely depends on the assumption that your personal information isn’t of any interest to people who don’t know you. Most of the time this is true; but then lack of privacy only becomes a problem when it isn’t.

LRB · Thomas Jones · Short Cuts

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