GigaOm highlights an interview with Nancy Baym, associate professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas and author of Personal Connections in the Digital Age, on the limitations in Facebook’s approach to privacy.
The interview covers various important issues, but Baym’s main concern is that Facebook has a “fundamentally naive and Utopian” view of what privacy means online, stemming from the fact that the company is run by “a bunch of computer science and engineering undergrads who don’t know anything about human relationships.”
I agree. I frequently remind myself that Mark Zuckerberg is only 26 years old, attended a very exclusive boarding school and university (which he never completed), and happened to be the last one standing when Facebook hit it big, making him an instant billionaire, and suddenly putting him in charge of the personal information of millions of people. He’s a kid; a privileged kid, who can’t really relate to the lived experiences of 99.9% of Facebook users.
Baym’s concern that Facebook is run by “a bunch of computer science and engineering undergrads” parallels my concerns with Google, where privacy is too often approached from strictly legal or engineering perspectives, failing to consider the broader ethical considerations. More on that soon…