What if I told you to “take off all your clothes?”
You’d probably say, “no.”
Hypothetically, why let me see your paunch belly, scars, man breasts/women breasts or whatever, just because I asked.
Ok. You don’t strip naked at the drop of a dime.
Glad we got that cleared up.
But it’s a good bet, you’ve likely taken off your clothes in other venues or for different reasons. Even if it’s just to get ready for bed.
Even though you told me “no,” you really don’t have an issue with taking off your clothes. You have an issue or lack of want to take your clothes off in front of me, or in any other context that you don’t like. In short, you have preferences as to when and how you choose to reveal yourself.
The same idea of privacy and exposure applies to data.
Yes, some data that could be revealed about you could be embarrassing. But in the larger sense, data is not so much about having things to hide or be embarrassed about.
When someone is able to see or share data about us, without our control, what we really lose is the ability to control how we reveal and present ourselves to others.
Why is control over our data important?
Being smeared or defamed occurs when another party is able to present information that takes control and reframes how people see or understand you. And that’s when the information that is “exposing” is not true.
Imagine if others exposed information about you that was true?
That’s happening. More and more, companies that collect your data are making those decisions of self-exposure for you. If we enjoy our privacy or, at least, wish to control what others reveal about us, why aren’t we getting upset about our increasing loss of control?
So why aren’t we getting upset about our increasing loss of control?
Some of the people who use our data, expose us. They just don’t tell us or do it in public. So the question is more like if someone shows a (metaphorically) nude picture of you and you don’t know about it, does it make you feel exposed or vulnerable? Ask social media firms like Facebook.
Facebook. Sharing data or offering TMI (Too Much Information)?
Staying with the clothing analogy. Facebook doesn’t ask you directly to your face to take off your clothes and expose yourself to others. Instead, it finds revealing, exposed (data) moments that it quietly shares with friends and advertisers.
So it didn’t tell you to strip in front of your friend (though you can choose to do that yourself by being overly personal on Facebook) but it has taken “data pictures” by pulling data and tracking habits that exposes your intimate parts to advertisers.
Some examples. A famous case where a woman was ousted as being gay on Facebook to her boss because of ads she looked at. An excerpt from The Daily Dot:
I didn’t want to be bisexual, and I certainly didn’t want other people to know that I was bisexual.
But Facebook took that decision away from me.
One day, shortly after starting a new job at a publishing house, my boss had asked me to show her how to do something on Facebook. At first, I tried to explain how to do it verbally, but then I decided it would be easiest to show her, and so I logged into my account with her over my shoulder.
As someone who grew up on the internet, I have become so accustomed to ads that I usually tune them out, whether they’re on Facebook, a website, or at the top of Google search results. But this day, in particular, the ads stood out to me. I don’t know why, exactly, but it probably had something to do with the fact that my boss was literally standing over my shoulder. But regardless, what I saw mortified me.
Facebook was showing me advertisements for a gay cruise to Israel: An ad with rainbow letters and mostly naked, muscled hunks. The ad text was a bad attempt at being punny; something like, “You’ve got to get on to get off.”
My boss didn’t acknowledge the ad; I’m not even sure if she saw it.
Even more recently, a dad found out from Target that his young daughter was pregnant as her purchasing habits caused the company to send marketing information to the home for pregnant women based on other purchases she made.
In these cases, they weren’t ask to strip emotionally naked. Others found pictures of us they decided to share on our behalf, but not with our control.
Because we aren’t asked, many don’t see that loss of control. So many users don’t feel they’ve lost that control or feel ashamed.
Should we be?
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