Business

Fear of sharing (or Why Zuckerberg is right about privacy)

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In the eyes of the mainstream new media Mark Zuckerberg can’t seem to do anything right these days.

What I love about Mark is that he doesn’t care what the crowd thinks. And I believe facebook is better because of that.

Rather than succumbing to mob rule, facebook takes its own direction. The direction that Mark thinks is right. And when it comes to privacy I think he hit the nail on the head when he wrote recently on the Washington Post’s web site,

If people share more, the world will become more open and connected. And a world that’s more open and connected is a better world. These are still our core principles today.

That’s the core of his argument. The more we share, the better off the world is. And I for one agree.

We’ve been taught to be afraid of lots of things we don’t really need to be afraid of. It’s one of the ways that society controls us.

I believe there are three really obvious areas that we as a society stand to benefit if we conquer our fears and start sharing information we’ve been conditioned to think of as private. Health. Money. Location.

Imagine if everyone’s health history was anonymized and available in a database. If you were diagnosed with a certain type of cancer you’d be able to go online and look at accurate data on what treatment plans were available and what the actual outcomes were. But we’re so busy worrying about our personal right to privacy that we’re missing out on this amazing opportunity.

Look at the information that services like Mint.com are able to give us because we share our financial data. If I know that my utility bills are more than the average in my part of town, I can take steps to save energy. In order to know that, we have to be willing to share our data. Something we’re not going to do as long as we’re afraid to enter our accounting information into a website. The truth is it’s much higher risk to hand your credit card to a waiter (who then disappears for five minutes into another room) than it is to put your bank username and password into mint.

And then there’s location. Thanks to ridiculous sites like PleaseRobMe.com, much of the population believes its unsafe to share your location on social networks. The truth is if someone wants to rob your house it’s a pretty safe bet you’re not home from 9-5, regardless of whether or not you checked in on foursquare. The first time you’re able to connect with a friend in a distant city or try a new restaurant because a friend left you a note in foursquare it’ll begin to make sense.

So, I think Mark’s right. The more we share, the more connected we are. And the more connected we are, the better place the world is. Let’s overcome our fears and share our way to a better world.

What do you think?

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