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Social Web

I use Facebook for more than birthdays and stalking

Paul Jacobson

I come across a lot of people who tend to use Facebook more to stalk people they meet or to check who is having a birthday today. I do that stuff but I have been using Facebook as my primary online social space for a while now and it is a terrific tool for me. While Google+ gives users the ability to share selectively, very few of my friends and family are using it so it’s a very limited option for me. With the exception of a couple family members who are still concerned about Facebook’s privacy controls (I think their privacy is probably better protected on Facebook that out and about in their neighbourhoods), my family and friends are all on Facebook and use it fairly actively.

Most of the stuff I share on Facebook is invisible to the public and to a number of people who I have friended but remain on a restricted list. Facebook is where I share details of my life with my kids, wife, family generally and friends and I took a decision to only share that more personal stuff with people who I have met, am friendly with and would invite to my kids’ birthday parties. I’ve set my Instagram stream up to be private by default and when I publish to Facebook from Instagram, it goes to “Friends” by default. In fact, “Friends only” is my profile default.

Everyone else can see my public updates and, in that sense, I treat Facebook like Twitter. My public updates are posts I am happy to share with anyone who can see them just as my tweets are. I don’t understand why anyone would use Twitter as their primary social network. To me, Twitter is the online equivalent of standing in a crowded room shouting over everyone else in an attempt to maintain a coherent conversation. Photos and stuff you shared may as well be Polaroid prints you pass around the room to people you know and don’t know. Some people are public by default, I prefer to be more selective with who gets to see my more personal stuff (although what I regard as personal may not fall within your definition). With all Facebook’s efforts to get us to share more publicly in the past, selective sharing is what Facebook is good for and perhaps what it is really intended to be used for.

The people who I friend and assign to my restricted list tend to be people I have met and know on some level but they may be business contacts or people I just don’t know very well. If I don’t friend someone or refuse a friend request, it is generally because I just don’t know the person beyond a passing familiarity with the person online. I similarly don’t accept Foursquare connection requests from random people or people I don’t know well enough to feel comfortable disclosing my locations. Facebook, in many ways, mirrors my life generally. It’s more meaningful to me because of that.

I’m not quite sure why I felt the need to publish this post. I suppose one reason is to present another perspective on Facebook as a user who does more than stalk people and check birthdays (Facebook is awesome for birthdays!). As more of our lives is online, it is really important to have a space where we can share selectively if we choose to. If Facebook fell away, that space may be Google+ or whatever comes next. Path is also an interesting option although not all that compelling alongside Facebook. Path may be a preview of what may be coming in the years to come but, for now, it’s tough to beat Facebook. At least, for me.

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Mindsets Mobile Tech Social Web

From privacy to publicity and the #JugCam debate

The #JugCam debate is a minefield and its probably not a good idea for anyone other than a woman feminist to say or write anything about it. Any perspective other than a feminist one is sure to be as incorrect as any answer to the dreaded “Do I look fat in this?” question.

If you haven’t discovered the #JugCam meme yet, its pretty simple. The idea is to tweet photos of women in bikini tops at cricket matches in an effort to spice up the game a bit. I believe the person who came up with this idea is person tweeting as @followthebounce (almost certainly a guy). A couple guys responded to the idea with tweeted photos of women at cricket matches in bikini tops. One or two photos were of women who posed, a couple were women in the crowd and a number were screen grabs from the TV feed.

Fleabeke: I don't usually start argu ...

I went back a bit and as far as I can tell, the woman tweeting as @Fleabeke sounded a call to action against the #JugCam meme and declared her intention to fight it. A number of people (primarily women) joined the Twitter protest against the meme on the basis that it is illegal (I doubt it); exploits women; encourages photos of women’s breasts being published without their knowledge and consent and is downright sleazy. Intellectually I understand some of the arguments and where they come from. To me the arguments against #JugCam resonate a little with some of the ideas behind the Slut Walk movement (my favorite slogan is “Its a dress, not a yes”). I don’t really agree with the protest against #JugCam.

I am going to throw what I am certain will be an unpopular argument against the wall. As the Twitter debate evidences, we live in a time when we are increasingly online, socially connected and capable of publishing a dizzying amount of content on the Web for virtually anyone to see. This is not new. We’re had the ability to take photos with out phones and upload those images to the Web for several years now. As more people use more capable smart devices we will share even more of our daily experiences online. Often this sharing will be inappropriate and perhaps even malicious. For the most part people will just share stuff because they can. We are getting to a point where you can’t go anywhere without seeing smartphones or other devices being used to take photos, record video and publish that content to sites you have no control over.

When it comes to the #JugCam meme (which is an organized version of what guys have probably been doing at sports events for some time now), we have to start making decisions about how we behave in such a connected world. I know how this next bit sounds but I think it has to be said and really does have some merit as an argument: women who wear bikini tops at public sports events like cricket matches must be aware that their photos could be taken and uploaded for broader consumption. I’m not saying its ok for that to happen, it is a little creepy, but it happens. Arguing that people (ok, men) shouldn’t be allowed to do this in public spaces without express permission is a little disingenuous. If a woman is opposed to being photographed in a bikini top and having her photo published online then she should reconsider wearing a bikini top at these events. Women should also be free to express outrage at their photo being published and demand that it be removed but whether that actually happens will likely come down to a decision based on the rights to freedom of expression, dignity and privacy being weighed up. I suspect the legal position will be something along the following lines: women in public wearing bikini tops have no real legitimate expectation of privacy when they are in public and can’t complain if their photo is taken and published online, particularly where they are aware that this could (and does) occur.

@magependragon: Giggling at #JugCam outcry ...

As I mentioned at the beginning of my post, this debate is a minefield. It includes elements of historical gender-based discrimination and objectification. It touches on how men, generally, tend to treat women as means to satisfy their own desires without consideration for women’s feelings and sensibilities. It also touches on notional privacy issues and the idea that “its a dress, not a yes” (although there is no suggestion that taking photos of women in bikini tops and tweeting the photos is directly and necessarily linked to sexual assault). Another argument is that women should bear in mind that wearing a bikini at a public and televised cricket match can draw attention from smartphone toting guys who have an impulse control problem.

I think our privacy norms are changing and we are becoming accustomed to being a little more public. I also think the vocal feminists on Twitter are going a little too far with their protest. They’re entitled to oppose what they view as offensive but its practically fashionable to assume we don’t live in a world where people don’t always behave with utmost respect and where women (justifiably) dress as they please but in a fictional world where doing so doesn’t attract any unwelcome attention, whatever that may be (it still amazes me how men are expected to just know what is appropriate behaviour and what isn’t without being given much guidance and I’m not talking about obviously offensive comments, touching and assaults – those guidelines are pretty well established).

The Web and all its bits and pieces have changed how we live our lives and relate to each other. We have to start making more decisions about our publicity levels and act accordingly. Perhaps women who object to being photographed in bikini tops at cricket matches shouldn’t wear bikini tops at those matches. Perhaps people should be discouraged from taking the photos of bikini clad women in the first place so women feel more comfortable wearing less at these matches for whatever reason. Or perhaps we should reassess our norms when it comes to our privacy expectations and publich sharing on the Web.