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Be careful what you wish for: The emergent challenges of the social web

Date & Time:
12:30:00 - 14:30:00,
Thursday 3 June, 2010


Social network sites are emerging as the dominant gateway to the Internet. Facebook alone is the number two or three site in virtually every EU member state behind Google. Now Facebook is trying to leverage this position by exposing hordes of data to the public web and implementing more tedious privacy controls.

This talk will explore the consequences of this situation by asking ‘what if everyone you know is now a friend on Facebook?’ To answer this question requires a shift in mindset beyond ‘disclosure-by-default’ or ‘privacy-by-design’ as neither can adequately capture the complexity of this situation.

Beyond the naïve dreams of either a completely public or private online identity is room for user-empowering strategies and policies that enable individuals to judge for themselves how much information they distribute and to whom. We cannot put the genie back in the bottle, but it is possible to assist users in managing this new situation with increased care.

For site designers this means taking steps to enable users to assess their level of disclosure, for policy makers it means establishing criteria that sites must meet for such an assessment and for academics it means better research into the mental models of social life that can inform both government and industry. Current academic research and public examples of such user empowerment will be demonstrated.

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  • Dr Bernie Hogan
  • Name: Dr Bernie Hogan
  • Affiliation: Oxford Internet Institute
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