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Privacy, FourSquare, and Teens

Some days two things come up that give you pause. Today was one of those.

Masters of Deception book coverYesterday I finished reading “Masters of Deception: The Gang That Ruled Cyberspace, the story of the teenaged hacker ‘gangs’ of the late 1980′s and early 1990′s. There are the usual questions of whether these kids were just curious, smart kids who were under-served by the schools or there really was criminal behavior. The book gives enough of glimpse into each of the actors to see the various blends in each one, as well as how the intent changes as the boys grow up.

Today, the twitter-sphere is bubbling over with news of changes in FourSquare’s privacy policy. Apparently, FourSquare will now be sharing full names and giving venue owners more up-to-the-minute data on check-ins starting January 28, 2013. This comes only a few weeks after Instagram was forced to back down on some of its new privacy policies.

My interest is generally around the work I’ve done with schools and teen-agers so these stories intersect. The story of teen-agers is really about how their judgement grows over time. This collision of massive amounts of data with limited judgement provides for some interesting times!

Will our new definition of privacy be more like a small-town where everyone knows what you had for dinner but social mores dictate the way that information is used or more like the anonymity of a big city where so much is visible that no one really sees it.

At any rate, seeing our teenage selves in public will surely shape society for decades to come. This was recently discussed in the NY Times blog “Motherlode” in the article “Thanks, Mom, for Not Telling the World I Pulled a Knife on You.”

Makes you think!

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