Online Privacy vs. User Experience

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Mom here: Is that your room you’re smoking in?

This recent article on MediaPost got me thinking about how different generations feel about online privacy and how they’d like their personal information to be used as they navigate the web. College students from Ball State indicated they would like search engines to be able to use the personal information available on the web about them to provide better search results. Given the reaction to Facebook Beacon, right now this seems unlikely.

Currently there is a trend towards legally restricting the use of information that can potentially identify individuals, and Congress is moving towards the passage of such restrictions. Younger generations brought up on the web don’t seem to have a fear of this type of data usage – having grown up using these tools, they’ve come to expect that the more information they provide across digital platforms, the better their user experience becomes. Instead of demanding anonymity, they are using the web to build identity and use it to their advantage. The consequences of this shift haven’t been fully felt yet, it remains to be seen what negative effects can be expected when all of our personal data is “out there”.

We know that job seekers often can be embarrassed by old pictures or comments on Facebook pages, but what about 20 years down the road when their kids see those pictures? Personal information and identity management are issues that are going to become central to the lives of everyone in the digital age, and new tools will need to be developed to assist in organizing and editing our online lives.

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