The Twitter discussion last week with Surekha and Karthik, was mostly about attribution, but it had another facet to it – privacy. Last week, a childhood photo of mine was shared on Facebook, I promptly untagged. Thankfully Facebook still allows that, though I wonder for how long. But it made me think. Does the photo belong to the person clicking it or the person who has been clicked?

Surekha, for example, mentioned that she was okay if her tweet was reproduced, so long as it was attributed to her. I am ambivalent about my stance since I have at least a couple of problems, one practical, one theoretical (for now) – first, the context of it, where will it be used and in what context? I even stretched the thought to whether I can choose who gets to RT me and which tweets. Second, what if someone has a revenue model out of aggregating tweets, and that’s not just MSM I’m talking about, its online publications, blogs and blog aggregators too.

The first one is about privacy. When I share a status/tweet on FB/Twitter, I do it on the assumption that its shared in a relatively closed network, and in a context. It would be ironic if the content creators of new media to say they’ve been mistweeted. With Facebook’s  changes in policy at the end of last year, the definition of privacy is actually up in the air. No, actually Facebook is deciding what is privacy and that it is over. And to think that privacy was the cited reason for the non-portability of the data on the network!! There are two wonderful posts on the subject which you really should read – one by danah boyd and the other by nicholas carr. On a tangent, this post onThe Inquisitr about how (in the context of customer service), in spite of the web making every person a media outlet, the concerned corporations would choose to listen to only a few. The fear being whether rules of personal privacy would also be decided by a select few. Are we talking the Schmidt language here – “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place”. Oh, did I take that out of context? Heh.

The second one (about the revenue model) made me think about media and brands and intrigued me because it is linked to privacy, and more so, because I sensed a paradox – between the individual’s notion of privacy and how we expect a media outlet/brand to be dictated by us on how and where its content is used. Yes, they are not individuals. But even if news per se is not owned by anyone, isn’t the particular form in which it is carried owned? The brand, is owned. The way the web is evolving, do they have a choice about where they are seen and who talks about them? This is not a debate on whether it makes sense for them to be private/public, but my point is about choice. When we start thinking about ‘linking’ as a right, just because the web economy is supposedly supported by it, I get the feeling I mentioned earlier – will a (new) powerful few dictate how it plays out? Privacy and control – they cross paths a lot. What really are we creating?

until next time, protocols