How do we protect what is private?

This is a broad question that maybe some of you have thought about, to start understanding what this question even means we need to do some introduction. Firstly, let’s start by introducing what does the word privacy mean according to The Cambridge Dictionary:

Pri·va·cyç/ˈprīvəsē/

  • The state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.
  • Someone’s right to keep their personal matters and relationships secret.
  • The right that someone has to keep their personal information secret or known only to small groups of people.

Secondly, I will try to answer this question by using a common service that we all have hear of, it’s called Facebook. Currently Facebook has had a rough couple of years because of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and whether they are culpable or not. I will roughly introduce what Facebook is and does.

Facebook is a social networking site that makes it easy for you to connect and share with family and friends online. Originally designed for college students, Facebook was created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg while he was enrolled at Harvard University. By 2006, anyone over the age of 13 with a valid email address could join Facebook. Today, Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with more than 1 billion users worldwide.

When Facebook to go public in early 2012, Mark Zuckerberg noted that the social network wasn’t originally designed to be a company. “It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected” Zuckerberg wrote in Facebook’s S-1 filing, presenting the business as an engine supporting this goal.

Now, five years later, the social network’s CEO still believes Facebook’s primary purpose is a social one, but he’s ready to update this mission for the first time. At at time when Facebook has come under scrutiny for not adequately curbing the spread of false news and extremist activity on the social network, Zuckerberg is committing to making the world closer. On stage on Thursday at Facebook’s first Community Summit, a gathering in Chicago of leaders from 120 different Facebook Groups, Zuckerberg unveiled Facebook’s updated purpose: “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

Lastly, the bad publicity they have had it’s true, but what else might be true in this case. Facebook is a free social networking site that needs ads in order to survive and work the way that it does. Their whole mission as a company is built on ads, their primarily interest is to collect data, whether they sell it to third parties or not. That is one thing we are going to further talk about.

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In the company’s annual developer conference, they spoke to all the change that Facebook had with their new identity, new graphic image, new mission, new purpose and many other things. That day, Facebook went from “Show off everything in your life publicly…we encourage you!to “Users have control over sharing with one or more people… it will be encrypted”. That is saying that they will not be eye dropping on private conversations anymore, but that makes me wonder if that is completely true and if we can trust their word on that. In the conference there where many questions left untouched, like if there will be any changes on how they collect user data? Or how they are ensuring that the data will no longer be shared to others? Questions that are very important for us, the public.

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With all of this in mind I made an artifact that reflects what technology is doing to our public and private data. There is a line that divides our private data from our public. You can think about what things you would like to leave private and what things are good having public…

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But what happens when that line becomes blurry and unclear? Where does our data stand? As technology grows and advances, this line becomes even more blurry. How can we protect what is private when we don’t even know what our private data is? The content is becoming both public and private at the same time. No matter what Facebook’s CEO mission is, doesn’t matter if our information is now encrypted, the information we upload is public.

After talking about this mega social network, we can now start to ask ourselves, How do we protect what’s private? To do that we need to balance public and companies. By making the public to care about their privacy and not just scroll down the privacy and policy pop-up until we reach the I agree button with even noticing what I am agreeing upon. Companies also need to care about our privacy and not sell it like it was hot delicious bread. This way we could have a meaningful relationship between companies and the public.

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There are many things designers can do, here I enlist some examples that I have come up with, what else can we do?

  • Giving users more transparency, choice and control over how their data is being used
  • What data is being collected, by whom and why
  • Giving users easy access to information and control

Benefits are big
Risks, that we’ll have to see…