Too Much Information?

Do you sometimes squirm a little when you see what someone has ‘shared’ online?

Maybe it’s a status update that would have been better shared with one or two people than with the whole world or a photo that really should never have been placed in public.

Since the meteoric rise of social networking there has been an equally sharp increase in the amount of information that people are sharing with everyone else on the planet.

Technology company Intel has produced the Mobile Technology Etiquette Study which suggests that we’re sharing way too much online.

According to a recent multi-country study commissioned by Intel Corporation and conducted by Ipsos Observer* on “Mobile Etiquette,” the majority of adults and teens around the world are sharing information about themselves online and feel better connected to family and friends because of it. However, the survey also revealed a perception of “oversharing,” with at least six out of 10 adults and teens saying they believe other people divulge too much information about themselves online, with Japan being the only exception.

It seems that we don’t understand or we just don’t care about the possible effects of sharing too much through networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the many other social platforms that now play a major part in opening our private lives to the public.

According to the latest Intel survey, approximately half of adults around the world feel overloaded by the amount of information people share online. Yet, adults and teens across the globe are sharing a wide variety of information online, with photos of themselves or people they know cited as one of the top things being shared. Other frequently shared items that adults are likely to share include: announcements of important life events in Australia and the United States; reviews and recommendations in China, France and Japan; sports information in Brazil; and current events in India and Indonesia.

While the survey revealed that digital sharing on mobile devices helps many people feel more connected to others, the tendency to share too much information can annoy others for various reasons. Adults and teens from each country had differing opinions on top digital sharing pet peeves. However, constant complaining, posting inappropriate photos, using profanity and sharing too many life details and personal information were prominent responses.

More than 85 percent of survey respondents across the globe wish people thought more about how others will perceive them when sharing information online. At least one-quarter of adults and one-third of teens around the world, with the exception of Japan and Indonesia, have been embarrassed by something they have done online. Many also admit to having a different personality online and to sharing false information online.

Have you been guilty of sharing too much? I do share a lot of stuff online but I still draw a line on many topics and situations. I realise that even those things that I share with a select group online can go well beyond any privacy settings I may have selected so I’m very careful with how much I send into cyberspace.

What kind of sharing makes you cringe? One of the big ones for me is the ‘fishing’ status. I’m sure you’ve seen them. It’s when someone posts something like, “That’s it. I’ve had enough.” or, “I don’t care what she thinks.” or anything else that is designed to give just enough information to make others swarm in and say, “Are you alright honey?” If you need support, talk to a friend. Don’t go fishing for it online.

How about you? What do you think when friends overshare online?

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A Little Privacy Please

When was the last time you read or heard a privacy statement?

I’m sure that we’re all happy to know that the organisations with which we interact have privacy statements, and that they hopefully honour them, but are we interested in the fine print? Do we make a point of checking such statements?

I had reason to phone the Australian Tax Office earlier today, and let me say what a fine, upstanding and outstanding bunch of people they are. (I have no desire to annoy anyone at the ATO.)

The thing that made me smile was the fact that after a brief welcome, the very first option the recorded voice gives is to hear the privacy statement. It’s hello, welcome, then straight into, “If you would like to hear our privacy statement, press nine.”

I wonder if anyone has ever pressed nine. Has anyone ever thought, “Before I join the queue to talk to one of the fine, young people at the tax office, I’d like to get their take on privacy.”? I know that you’re expecting me to tell you that just for the sake of the exercise I pressed nine … but I didn’t. I can’t tell you how long or interesting it is. Mind you, if you’ve ever pressed nine to hear the privacy statement, I’d love to hear from you.

How much fine print do we ever read? When was the last time you read all the conditions of joining an online service or installing some software? Does anyone go to that much trouble? (I must admit that I ‘skim’ through those things quite a bit to check the relevant bits, but I reckon I’m in the minority.)

By the way, as a point of interest, if you search Google Images with the terms “Australian Tax Office”, you’ll see a remarkable number of photos of Paul Hogan.

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What’s Your View on WikiLeaks?

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested in Britain after an international warrant was issued for him last week, London’s Metropolitan Police said. – ABC News

I’m sure that there are many points of view regarding WikiLeaks and its recently arrested founder Julian Assange. Some believe that releasing previously confidential documents will aid in openness and accountability. They would say that we as the people of democratic countries have the right to know what our elected governments are doing. Others are going as far as saying that publishing classified military documents online amounts to treason and that lives have been put at risk.

What do you think? Can there even be a simple answer or are you still unsure what to think of the revelations that have hit the internet and our news services recently?

Well over 500 mirror sites have already been created for WikiLeaks so the information being released isn’t about to go away any time soon.

Closer to home

The whole situation has me thinking a little closer to home. Do we have the right to know everything? Are there reasons that things should be kept from us? If so, who should make the decision about what is out in the open and what is kept confidential?

Should we expect to know everything that goes on in our workplace, even when it doesn’t concern us? Should boards of management, CEOs and others in senior positions reveal everything about their dealings with everyone inside and even outside the company? Would you be happy to have your employment records and complete pay details online for all to see? I imagine that it wouldn’t bother some people but others would find it a little more concerning.

It seems interesting to me that at the same time that many are calling for greater privacy there is a great deal of support to reveal government details. There was a huge uproar when people felt that Facebook didn’t regard their privacy highly enough. Now we want to expose private conversations between heads of state which may have far greater consequences.

Caught in between

To be honest, I’m caught in between. I think there should be a great deal of openness and accountability within government, especially when those governments are acting on our behalf, but on the other hand, I think there’s a lot to be said for electing a government and then handing over the responsibility of government to those we have chosen to represent us.

Getting personal

Making it even more personal, I’m glad that every conversation I have, every email I write and every thought that goes through my mind isn’t splashed across the web. I try to keep my conversations honourable but I know that sometimes I mess up and say things that should never have left my lips. I’m glad that some people don’t hear those words. When I’m writing emails I do my best to be careful with what I say but I must admit that I have, on occasion, sent emails which have been less than helpful. When it comes to my thoughts …. I’m ashamed at what goes through my mind at times. I’m glad that between the time I think about something and the time I act on my thoughts I have the opportunity to censor myself and filter my reactions.

I’m glad that every thought, word and deed by every person isn’t displayed around the world. I believe we all need to be careful about the way we conduct ourselves in public or in private. We need accountability. We need transparency and openness. But I’m wondering if in calling for confidential details of government conversations to become public property, we’re holding others to a standard we would refuse to be held to ourselves.

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Fixing Facebook

We seem to be hearing more and more about online privacy concerns recently. I’m glad that many people are starting to take the matter seriously. In general, we’ve been far too laid back in our attitudes to what is posted online and what we make availabel for the world to see. I recently asked Are You Exposing Yourself Online? and ran a poll to see if you would take part in Quit Facebook Day.

As I’ve said before, I’m not throwing the baby out with the bathwater but I am looking at ways to tighten up security where required. If you’re concerned about Facebook security, and you really should be, you don’t need to delete your account. You can now use a simple scan to review your Facebook security. It’s a simple matter of moving an icon onto your toolbar and then letting the application scan your Facebook settings.

If you think that all the talk about privacy online is a bit over the top and that no one will be checking out your private posts, think again. is reporting on a new website which is specifically aimed at gathering details from Facebook pages.

Have you tightened up your online security? Does all the talk of security and privacy concern you? I’d be very interested in your thoughts on the issue. Please leave your comments in the comments section of this post.

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Too Much Information?

the_withings_wi_fi_body_scale.jpgSocial networking has helped us to instantly connect to people around the world. We can share all kinds of things about our lives and update people on the other side of the planet with what we’re doing every second of the day. But how much information is too much information?

I blog, I use Facebook, Twitter and various other online applications but I still manage to keep huge amounts of information about my life private. I’m not trying to be secretive or to hide anything, it’s simply that I choose to choose what I reveal about myself and those close to me.

I don’t mind telling you that I’m trying to lose weight. I did pretty well last year, slipped up a little over the festive season, and am now back on track to start reducing the numbers on the scales again. What are those numbers? Sorry, that’s my business.

Of course if you want the world to know your exact weight every time you step on the scales you could always get a set of Withings Wifi Body Scales. I love many of the features of these scales. Just step on and they automatically record your weight, fat mass and BMI, then transmit the information to your chosen weight management application online. Brilliant. As someone who records their weight alonng with cycling statistics every day, this could be a huge boost, but I certainly wouldn’t be using the new Twitter feature.

You can select to tweet your weight every time you step on the scales or once a week, once a month or whatever you prefer. I’d prefer not to let everyone on Twitter know my weight at all but I can see that it’d be a useful feature for those seeking some external accountability.

So how much is too much? How do you draw the line on what you put online? Experts say that you shouldn’t put anything in an email or online that you wouldn’t be prepared to have splashed across the front page of newspapers around the world. Are people sharing too much? Have you ever wished that someone close to you had held back a little more? I’d be very interested in your response. Please leave me a comment or two.

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