Privacy vs. the Personal Brand

10 Mar

Recently a friend said to me:

I am skeptical still about posting so much information about myself on the web for everyone to see.

This is a topic I’ve pondered many times in the past decade and have talked about with at length with lots of people. I think there is a fundamental decision that needs to be made when approaching privacy and the internet. Are you interacting with the internet to be anonymous or are you trying to build a persona brand?

I know many people argue that things like personalized advertisments and other uses of personal data are privacy issues – I actually enjoy them. I figure if I’m going to have advertisiments they may as well be relavent, maybe I’ll actually be able to make use of them. And for that reason I leave this philosophical argement to others to iron out.

My focus on interent and privacy come with what you say and do and how that can affect you in real life. Most people would agree that going onto the internet, making bold political claims and then providing your home address is inviting conflict into your home. Does this mean that you should never say anything controversial online? No. Does this mean you should never give personal information online? No. What this does mean is that you should be cautious of what you say and how that is related to who you are.

Consider doing a quick google search of your name or better yet your internet screen names. Chances are you will be presented with a rather long list of the things you have said and done online. You might find a couple of items that give more personal information (like an old address) but unless you have listed your information as public through the yellow pages there is a very good chance that someone would have to search hard to find where you are now unless you told them.

My personal suggestion for maintaining a safe and semi-private life on the internet is to allow yourself to be you – but do so in the same way you would in real life. Think of all your interactions online like those at a block-party. Depending on the size of your neighborhood people might not know where you live but if they really wanted to they could probably find out. For this reason we all work to be nice to our neighbors or at least polite to them.

If for some reason you really feel the need to go all out and say and do things on the internet you would never want to follow you into the rest of the world I suggest proceeding with caution. Think about the screen name your using, the IP address your using, the email these are associated with. And mostly think about whether you should really be doing or saying things that warrant this kind of psudo cover.

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One Response to “Privacy vs. the Personal Brand”

  1. stone March 12, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    We’re as sick as our secrets… If we don’t wish to be known by our actions, we need to reconsider the actions we’re taking.
    Good job.

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