Everyone knows someone who overshares on social media, from constant updates about daily minutiae to an automatically generated stream of songs listened to, articles read, games played and other matters blast-broadcast through various applications. Intentional over-sharers may be a necessary nuisance in our wired world, but the days of the auto-generated social media stream may be numbered, says Neil Richards, JD, privacy law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis.
The Internet and social media have opened up new vistas for people to share preferences in films, books and music. Services such as Spotify and the Washington Post Social Reader already integrate reading and listening into social networks, providing what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls “frictionless sharing.” “But there’s a problem. A world of automatic, always-on disclosure should give us pause,” says Neil M. Richards, JD, privacy law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis.
Facebook’s initial public offering (IPO) filing shows real numbers for profit and revenues, which are likely to drive a valuation that could be as high as $100 billion.This astronomical number does require some aggressive assumptions about future growth, but the high valuation may be more justified than for other internet companies, says Mark T. Leary, PhD, assistant professor of finance at Washington University’s Olin Business School.
Most people would rather not have their video viewing habits easily available to the public — no need for co-workers to know about your love of reality TV. The Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988 (VPPA) protects these records, but the House of Representatives — at the urging of Netflix and Facebook — recently voted to amend the VPPA, allowing companies to share movie watching habits much more easily. “What’s at stake is intellectual privacy — the idea that records of our reading habits, movie watching habits and private conversations deserve special protection from other kinds of personal information,” says Neil Richards, JD, professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis.
Julie SingerThe shooting death last Saturday of Neda Agha-Soltan has emerged, thanks to video widely circulated on the Internet, as a potent symbol of Iran’s antigovernment movement. In the news media and in private postings across the Web, Agha-Soltan has been memorialized as a victim, a martyr and — perhaps most hauntingly to Western ears — as “Iran’s Joan of Arc.” Yet while fitting in some ways, that comparison says less about either Agha-Soltan or the 15th-century French saint than it does about our own need to make sense of the present through comparison with the past, says Julie Singer, Ph.D., assistant professor of French in the Department of Romance Languages & Literatures at Washington University in St. Louis.
CoburnThink you know your daughter’s potential college roommate for her freshman year? Think again. Not to imply that your daughter will be rooming with an alien being, but as Facebook.com continues to gain popularity, it’s become easier for students to post information that may or may not always be true, which can pose problems for professors, friends and future employers. Students need to remember that a Facebook.com posting becomes public information. And the persona they create online may be hard to maintain once they arrive on campus, says a leading expert on the college experience.
David Kilper/WUSTL PhotoIn the fast-paced world of today’s college student, communication is key. Cell phones, iPods and laptop computers are now the norm, not the exception. Many students have even taken to creating their own Web pages on social networking sites like Facebook.com and Myspace.com. While being in touch and keeping friends and family informed are certainly important, students need to be careful of what they post on the Internet. It could have a very negative impact on finding a job after graduation, says a career expert at Washington University in St. Louis. More…