Are Privacy and Social Networking Incompatible?

The privacy furor stirred up over the past couple of weeks by the launch of Google’s social tool, Buzz, caused the search giant to make some fairly radical changes to the service. It also threw the issue of privacy in social networking into sharp relief. However, Google’s stumble in this space is just the latest in a long line of privacy flubs from nearly all of the vendors in the market. In my latest Long View over on GigaOM Pro (sub. req.), “Can Enterprise Privacy Survive Social Networking?,” I ponder whether social networking and privacy are fundamentally incompatible, and what individuals and businesses should be doing to limit the damage that can be caused by privacy leaks on social networks.

Privacy and social networking is something that we’ve discussed at length here on WWD; I particularly liked Dawn’s comments in “Private or Personal in Social Media?” Unlike Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg I don’t believe that the “age of privacy” is over, but there’s no doubting that the more of your “stuff” that you share online, the less control you have over your privacy. Perhaps social networks will evolve to give us reliable, granular, context-sensitive privacy controls, such as those that ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick argues for. But until they do, we all need to be careful about who we share our stuff with, and where we share it.

Do you think that privacy and social networking are fundamentally incompatible?

Photo by Flickr user rpongsaj, licensed under CC BY 2.0

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