Choosing Privacy

This week, May 2-8, 2010 the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsored the first ever Choose Privacy Week.’  Check out the official website at privacyrevolution.org
While it may have served better to be posting about this last weekend, it’s never too late to talk about privacy.

I encourage you to watch the Privacy Week video. It’s long at 23 minutes, but stick with it, you will be glad you did.’  Not only does it feature beloved authors with online presences- Cory Doctorow and Neil Gaiman, and ALA president Camilla Alire, it also features an average mother with a teenage daughter who are having an open conversation about privacy. This last one is important.’  While I love public figures who speak out about the things I believe in, honest and open conversations between teens and parents, or other caring adults, are the small places where change can happen.’  Having adults who support them and help them to learn about the world around them is the ideal situation for teens to grow into adults who keep that awareness.

This is information literacy. Online privacy choices require some critical thinking.

Click through to the rest of the post and I will get into a bit of the specifics of this regarding the current stat of Facebook.

Facebook has changed some things of late- “instant personalization,” where Facebook shares your personal profile with other companies,’  is something that facebook went ahead and opted into for everyone.’  One has to choose to opt out, and then jump through various account hoops to do so.’  And more recently, Facebook now requires that various pieces of profile information, your favorite books and television shows or the town you live in, be linked to Facebook pages about that piece of information.’  And if you don’t want to link to the Facebook page for Glee or Paper Towns, or your current town for that matter,’  you don’t get to display that information any more.

All of this is making everyone cranky.’  By everyone, I mean both my particular friends, many of whom have deleted significant amounts of their profile information and keep threatening to leave Facebook all together, and the Internet community, where people have been writing and sharing articles with much the same themes.’  To leave Facebook or not to leave Facebook.

Dan Yoder says Leave Facebook.

David Lee King says Don’t leave Facebook.

And my new favorite article on the subject from wired.com, in which Ryan Singel suggests we should leave Facebook and build better social networks, then goes on to envision what those might look like.

The decision I have arrived at for the time being anyway, is that unless I made a Ning for every one of my social or professional groups, I’m not really sure that leaving Facebook, for me at least, is viable.’  There are too many connections that I rely on all contained within one social networking site.’  And that’s just an example of one librarian struggling with one social network.’  These issues will keep coming up.

What do we do? Talk about privacy.’  Educate the teens you work with.’  Educate the people who are less Internet savvy in your lives.’  Strive for balance.

In the unconference area at ALA Midwinter, Joyce Valenza talked about teaching her high school students how to leave an “academic digital footprint.” I mentioned before that I wasn’t able to stay for as much of that conversation as I would have liked.’  But what I did take away from that was that the parts of ourselves that are visible online, because unless we avoid the Internet entirely there will be things visible online, can paint a positive picture.’  We need to be the ones in control of that picture, because, and here’s another video I ran into this week, social networks are not going anywhere.

Has anyone started a conversation about privacy with teens? How is it going?

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