In today’s discussions about privacy, “youth don’t care about privacy” is an irritating but popular myth. Embedded in this rhetoric is the belief that youth are reckless risk-takers who don’t care about the consequences of their actions. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
I’ve been critiquing moves made by Facebook for a long time and I’m pretty used to them being misinterpreted. When I lamented the development of the News Feed, many people believed that I thought that the technology was a failure and that it wouldn’t be popular. This was patently untrue.
Questions-and-answers have played a central role in digital bonding since the early days of Usenet. Teenagers have consistently co-opted quizzes and surveys and personality tests to talk about themselves with those around them. They’ve hosted guest books and posted bulletins to create spaces for questions and answers.
Scott Golder recently wrote blog post at Cloudera entitled “Scaling Social Science with Hadoop” where he accounts for “how social scientists are using large scale computation.” He begins with a delightful quote from George Homans: The methods of social science are dear in time and money and getting dearer every day. He then turns to talk about the trajectory of social science:
I’ve been following ChatRoulette for a while now but haven’t been comfortable talking about it publicly. For one, it’s a hugely controversial site, one that is prompting yet-another moral panic about youth engagement online. And I hate having the role of respondent to public uproar. (I know I know…)
Sarita Yardi has been doing a lot of thinking about ChatRoulette these days and I wanted to share a short essay she wrote to explain ChatRoulette to the uninitiated. I think that this is a fantastic introduction for those who aren’t familiar with the site. (And I’ll follow up with my own thoughts in the next post.)
With Facebook systematically dismantling its revered privacy infrastructure, I think it's important to drill down on the issue of privacy as it relates to teens. There's an assumption that teens don't care about privacy but this is completely inaccurate. Teens care deeply about privacy, but their conceptualization of what this means may not make sense in a setting where privacy settings are a binary.