Transparency: Singular profile

I believe one of the most talked about issues with technology (esp. with social technologies) is privacy.

During class, we spoke about FB’s vision of creating a singular view of its users. This is not a new concept.

#1: Businesses wants a singular view of their customers!

Businesses had been striving to have a singular and consistent view of its customers to better serve them or to segment them. Truth is, we give our IC numbers, telephone numbers, email addresses to the forms we fill up.

Okay, in this 21st century, consumers are getting smarter and more educated thus balancing the former information asymmetry played by commercial and government organizations. So, facing commercial or charity organizations, we often do not like to reveal too much such as IC number and handphone numbers. As Prof had mentioned in an experiment, email addresses are likely to be exchanged for something else such as lucky draws, etc. We all can guess the reasons, we often have the idea that we can control our emails and it’s easier to handle spam mails than prank calls.

Nowadays, consumers use email addresses or Facebook accounts to become a “bridge” to gain something out from the tangible world. Stand a chance to win an automobile or a iPad 3? Sure, fill in this particulars: Name, IC, HP, Address, Email address or even DOB. Stand a chance to win a $50 hamper? Sure, I will just fill in my name and email address.

The notion is that my online profile is still a distance away from the real me in real life. However, many are not aware or simply didn’t care that on a daily basis, they had been pouring our intimate information online which very much easily links back to their real lives!

Now, how about government agencies? People are more likely to divulge more information to play safe or to portray “obedience”. (This is subjected to various power-distance index of different countries [1])

Therefore, how users give up their online privacy is largely psychological and not technological.

#2: Media companies/Journalists wants a singular view of you as well!

Just made an observation and would like to share them. There is no hard evidence I could have gathered and it’s just pure speculation on my part.

I am not sure if this is an SOP that journalists will first cross check their databases before covering a new story. But I encountered a journalist [I call this person J1] who asked me about a fellow interviewee’s [I call this person ABC] age, I was told that ABC gave a age which did not match up after cross checking with the database. ABC was also featured on newspaper 2 years ago. Well, I told J1 then you can do simple maths and know what is the current age of ABC.

So, I was figuring that if some journalist were to write a story about you, he will definitely want to find out your history, at least on his database. However, the problem is social media, a simple google search can bring up wealth of information about you. And who knows what he will gather to get a better scoop of his story.

Imagine that 10 years ago you were a featured hero on newspaper. Today, you were involved in a fraud or scandal. A journalist who is covering your story might dig your past and say, “XYZ Scholar involved in ABC scam fraud!” This is a better headline than “Mr Plain Vanilla involved in an ABC scam fraud”

Conclusion of the matter

Countering the conventional saying of “You run but you can’t hide”.
There can no longer be any hiding online. With social media and the psychology behind users’ online behavior in converging online and offline identities, you can no longer run nor hide.

[1] http://www.clearlycultural.com/geert-hofstede-cultural-dimensions/power-distance-index/

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About Li Minyong Davis

Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give." -William Arthur Ward

One thought on “Transparency: Singular profile

  1. It’s still a long time to reach the stage where you will use singular profile online and offline. As we are is moving towards web-centric to app-centric, information about consumers will no longer be available openly for companies to capitalize on.

    In the future where we will use Facebook mobile app more often than Facebook website, only Facebook keeps your information related to their services. It’s true for other services as well, each has a part of your private information.

    Unless you voluntarily allow these services to consolidate your information, it will not be able for them to do that on their own.

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