Tuesday, March 06, 2012

New Book Spotlight

I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy by Lori Andrews 

Lori Andrews tackles a dificult and controversial topic in her new book.  Before social networks and media, privacy and information was a much more defined issue, with legislation and ideologies that many, if not all, could agree on.  At the very least, most could agree on what the problem was, what possible barriers could be erected to keep information private and the scope of available remedies that could try to make a person whose privacy has been invaded whole in the eyes of the law, if not in the eyes of their community or their family.

"Social networks are the defining cultural movement of our time, empowering us in constantly evolving ways.  We can all now be reporters, altering the world to breaking news of a natural disaster; we can participate in crowd-sourced scientific research; and we can become investigators, helping the police solve crimes.  Social networks have even helped to bring down governments.  But they have also greatly accelerated the erosion of our personal privacy rights, and any one of us could become the victim of shocking violations at any time.....The same power of information that can topple governments can destroy a person's career or marriage." (Book jacket excerpt, para. 1)

The New York Times Book Review begins its review by noting, "It may surprise anyone under 16, but even before the advent of social networking we faced threats to our privacy. A hospital accidentally releasing patient records or a shady marketing firm engaging in Stasi-like data collection — such violations were substantial enough and disturbing enough to make the evening news. Today, however, the “death of privacy” is more like death by a thousand cuts: information leaks out slowly and invisibly, and so routinely that we’re hardly shocked when it does [emphasis added]. Internet companies, which use the word “sharing” almost as a euphemism for “oops,” like to pretend these lapses are normal, even natural. If Mark Zuckerberg’s private photos are up for grabs (as when a recent glitch exposed his Facebook account), what can the rest of us expect?"  New York Times Book Review Link

The New York Times Review has both praise and criticism for Andrews' book, especially noting some difficulty with her proposed solutions to the threat of the death of privacy at the hands of social networking. It is worth the time to read the book for yourself to evaluate this important legal issue to make up your own mind on this issue. Some of the relevlations will shock you and some will not impact your personal views of social media and privacy as much as others, but you can be assured of one thing...as a societal and legal issue...this is a problem that is not going away on its own.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

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