Privacy: Not dead yet

I find it surprising that with all of the online chatter pre, post and during “The Great Privacy Debate” no one seems to have mentioned current happenings with Facebook and Google+. Sooner or later the online privacy debate almost always comes down to the assertion that people don’t care about privacy any more, that it’s gone the way of the hula hoop.

Life magazine

That’s just nonsense and Google agrees. They learned the hard way with Google Buzz that there are lots and lots of people who want to be able to control who knows what about them. That learning is evident in the release of Google+ which has featured increased privacy protection as a major differentiator from Facebook.

The point is not lost on Facebook as it scrambles to overhaul its privacy controls in response to what Google+ is offering. Of course, this sort of scrambling and backtracking on privacy is nothing new at Facebook. Do a Google search on facebook+apology+privacy and you’ll get 11 million hits. It’s getting harder and harder to trick people into sharing what they don’t want to share, at least publicly.

I’m not about to defend the Google privacy policy which has a whole set of its own problems. My point is that they at least know that privacy is an issue with people and if you want to attract and retain users you need to deal with it in a straightforward way. I expect every other social networking site knows that as well but most choose to address it only when forced. There is a lesson here for our industry as well.

This entry was posted in Research Trends by Reg Baker, Ph.D.. Bookmark the permalink.
Reg Baker, Ph.D.

About Reg Baker, Ph.D.

Reg Baker is the former president and chief operating officer of Market Strategies International. He continues to serve the company as a consultant on research methods and technologies. Reg is active in numerous professional associations and industry bodies including AAPOR, CASRO, ESOMAR and the Technical Committee responsible for ISO 20252—Market Opinion and Social Research. He serves on the Executive Editorial Board of the International Journal of Market Research and is a member of the ESOMAR Professional Standards Committee. Throughout his career, Reg has focused on the methodological and operational implications of new survey technologies including CATI, CAPI, Web and now mobile. He writes and presents on these and related issues to diverse national and international audiences and blogs off and on as thesurveygeek. Prior to joining Market Strategies in 1995, he was vice president of research services for NORC at the University of Chicago.

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