Privacy and Social Self-Regulation

Recently I have been thinking more about the interesting dynamic resulting from individuals’ willingness to publicly reveal much of their personal information on Facebook. As I attend more and more technology events, I hear a consistent message taking place: open up social networks. The goal is to allow people to transport their connections from one site to another. Is this really smart?

In the United States, citizens are known for valuing their privacy. For some reason though, many in the technology sector would like to make their lives a little more transparent by granting social networks (and possibly search engines) access to their complex tree of social, family and professional relationships. I find this a little bit ironic because if the government was attempting to do something along these lines, citizens would be in an uproar over the violation of privacy.

Instead, we are slowly volunteering much of our personal information to random organization that allow us to visualize our connections with other people. Are we moving toward an environment in which we publicize all of our relationships across the web? In Facebook, even if you don’t know the person you can see who they are connected to. The same goes for LinkedIn. Instead of the government stepping in to monitor us, we will voluntarily do it ourselves. Is this not a little strange?