Posts Tagged social media

Psst, I have a Secret

Posted by on Friday, 13 June, 2014

Secretly

I’ve been playing around on Secret lately. As a new social channel, I found it interesting and alluring to delve into the realm of anonymous social sharing. In doing so, I discovered a few interesting bits:

People use it to talk about sex. A LOT. While nowhere near surprising, it did reinforce how as a society we simply don’t talk about sex in any meaningful way publicly, or just openly. I’ve encountered some awesome discussions within the realms of sharing and commenting on secrets simply because of the safety involved with anonymity, thus by nature there is little chance of actual repercussions. More than just the issues we have with talking about sex, it also points heavily to the need to talk about it. With so many posts and comments surrounding the broad topic, there is a longing and desire to talk about these things in safe spaces. Things that are otherwise seen as taboo or lurid in mixed company or more public venues where anonymity isn’t a factor.

Even with outstanding community guidelines, people are still going to use the tool/service as they wish. Also known as “trolls will always be trolls”. Secret’s guidelines really are awesome, but they are only as good as the community that adopts them. With the overall tone of “Be Kind”, it seems that anonymity is seen as permission to be anything but. Thankfully, Secret has some outstanding report and block features that can help to quell hate or other inappropriate posts…

Which brings me to judgment. When Secret expanded its market a month or so back, I noticed a large uptick in comments that rained down judgements upon the secrets being shared, or even upon other comments in the threads. Because there is no demographic data to back up and corollaries I may draw, I have no way to know if such judgments are attributable to a particular age range, gender, or socio-economic status. What I do know, is that a large influx of people felt the need to shame, demean, and/or harshly reprimand others for sharing secrets, which seems to me completely misses the point of Secret in creating a safe place for people to share things they can’t say out loud to others.

Gender essentialism is rampant, and starts with basic assumptions of gender as it relates to the post author or anonymous commenters. This is yet another unsurprising behaviour, but one which is highlighted in how often those assumptions are proven incorrect, as well as how easy it is to fall into the traps of essentialism as it can be so deeply ingrained in our upbringing and socialization. Of course it doesn’t stop there, as assumptions of sexuality and even nationality are relatively common and can sneak up on you when you least expect it.

Relationships are hard. People make mistakes. People are scared to do what is right for themselves. Yes it is a huge generalization, but I’ve noticed a lot of secrets relating to interpersonal relationships, questioning themselves or their significant other, and lamenting being stuck in situations. One great secret shared put it very well as a PSA: “Pleasure is our birthright”. What so many secret sharers seem to miss is that it is indeed okay to be happy, to find your pleasure, to do what is right for you.

Being able to see that a “Friend” shared a particular secret has reminded me how amazing and awesome my friends really are. There are heartbreaking secrets, sexy secrets, and even dull work related secrets. But they all show our humanity and beauty, and that to me is the best part of Secret: through anonymity I can see your true beauty.

 

Information is currency; Privacy doesn’t exist

Posted by on Wednesday, 23 April, 2014

IMG_1955Earlier today one of my dear friends shared this article and tagged me for comment: Facebook Knows Everything About You, And If You Don’t Believe Us Here’s Proof

The article details out how UbiSoft’s marketing for their new game inadvertently shows how much Facebook knows about you. This is done via their Digital Shadow site after asking you to connect to it via Facebook authentication in which you grant access to your data as housed in the social network. The article paints a F.U.D. based theme (fear uncertainty, and doubt) around an individual’s privacy and how they may want to change their settings within Facebook to tighten things down.

Here’s the thing, though: there is no privacy on the internet. Security settings and custom privacy tweaks are speed bumps at best, and theater at worst. Like a glass window next to your home’s front door, any motivated attacker can bypass these settings with some small effort. While the addition of privacy settings are indeed necessary and effective to avoid the most common of breaches, they have also worked to the larger cultures disadvantage by allowing us to be a bit more complacent and reliant upon tools to do the job of privacy control. The best privacy control you have is the ability to choose what information you share.

Be careful, though. What you share may initially seem innocuous and irrelevant to most security or privacy concerns, but as the article above and the site referenced, there are things that can be inferred and connected across the data you share to build a view of your life which you may not have intended to be visible. Simple things like your location when combined with a job title can tell me a fair estimate of income as well as likelihood of work schedules and how valuable your digital life may be. The site does a good job of holding up a mirror to anyone sharing via Facebook and how that information can be connected to build a larger, perhaps unintended picture.

What does this really mean for you, as a participant on social media channels? It means you need to make informed choices. Understand that information is a form of currency used to trade for access to these sites and deeper connections to your networks of people. In my case, I trade quite a bit of information to maintain my connections with you while also working to build domain expertise in my career as a social business strategist. I make very specific choices about how open and transparent I am with what I share via any social channel, knowing that information is at best only obscured by my privacy settings and likely will be seen by many more people I’d not intended or expected. (Oddly, it is one of the lessons I’ve learned from blogging for so long now: you may be writing for one audience, but there’s likely other audiences reading and connecting… pay attention to them as well, as there may be wonderful opportunity for growth when you identify those unknown audiences).

We can’t trust companies to maintain our privacy for us. We need to take personal responsibility for our own information, what and how we share. While this may seem like a call to lock down your profiles, it isn’t. Rather, it is a call to become more informed and to begin thinking before we share and making the choice to use our information to pay for access or connection instead of just assuming it all comes for free. There’s a cost to social interaction, and what we are willing to pay will likely differ for every individual. Knowing that cost is the first step before paying the toll by sharing your information.

 

Personal or Professional: Why not both?

Posted by on Thursday, 3 April, 2014

934897_10200977113927595_398103035_nWhen it comes to social business, there’s little difference between “social media” and “real life”.

Social media has blurred the lines of professional versus personal. Some businesses, like LinkedIn, have attempted to clarify those lines once again by focusing on one side or the other. However, that intended focus isn’t concrete and still causes some blurring to occur. Because of this, I am often asked whether it is advisable for a person to maintain only a single mixed account, or to manage separate personal and professional accounts on sites like twitter, Facebook, tumblr, and Googleplus.

While the general advice is to do what you are comfortable with, I definitely urge to one side of that spectrum and have posted previously on the topic of managing digital personas.

Social media is different from “real life” in one very important way, however: there is no distinction between work and play. Because of this, it is best to think of social business not in terms of work, but rather to see social business as an after-hours cocktail party. This analogy plays out as conversation during cocktail parties runs the gamut of topics from professional to personal; because it is more social than work, the atmosphere is more relaxed, less professional, but can be focused on business or personal endeavors as the conversation flows. In this way, social media provides a virtual platform to engage in conversation at any level with which you are comfortable.

To best use this dynamic in social business, I find it most effective to maintain a single identity. In any of the spaces in which I play, I am simply me. The conversation can take many different directions at any given time, which both provides for a broader scope of topics in which my networks may be interested, as well as build some sense of humanity which a flat professional presence wouldn’t provide. In my experiences, it is that depth of humanity in social media which really builds the connection and relationships in social business that become valuable down the lines as business needs arise and opportunities present themselves.

So when I am asked what my recommendation is, I say: be yourself. Do what you are comfortable with, but do it in an authentic and human way.