Social media and privacy : nature 2.0 hates emptiness

by Laurent François


Hello world,

In a recent event in Athens (WPP Stream 08), I had the opportunity to participate to a discussion related to privacy issues. Here are some insights I wrote for Ogilvy’s blog :

  • From one side, marketing industry needs more data to improve their actions, strategy, to better understand consumers & citizens’ interests. And to build stronger engagement programs.
  • On the other side, consumers are more and more concerned of the information they give online, and want to protect themselves. Nonetheless they want to live bigger experience with brands.

So how to solve this big inequation ?
The very first point that the discussion underlined concerns the difference between explicit and implicit data : explicit data can refer to personal information fully & clearly expressed (ie : I’m a boy, I live in Paris etc.) whereas implicit elements refer to all the stories linking explicit data (ie : the reason why I live now in Paris is because my girlfriend left me when I was in Italy – I precise, this is not by case haha).

What is really at stake is our personal storyline belonging as individuals.

In the Harvard Business Review, Lew McCreary goes deeper and wonders “what was privacy ?”. He says privacy is not a law question, but an ethics one :

Privacy is less a matter of exerting control over our information than of expecting society to continually evolve solutions that allow us to live together in a more or less civilized state. Privacy matters because the social fabric depends on it to a great extent. A sophisticated understanding of privacy helps to define the shifting boundaries between public and private spaces and purposes. For example,free speech trumps privacy until it strays into slander or libel, at which point a privacy interest arises.

The Facebook generation is still very concerned about their digital identity protection. A very absurd point is claimed by a senior from Point Loma Nazarene University:

“the bottom line for students is if they are so concerned about privacy, then they should be much more stringent about what they post online.”It is definitely a contradiction. Government officials are online all of the time and so are employers. It would be silly to assume that you can put information online that will not eventually be revealed to these people,” she said. “If you want privacy, you should keep your personal life offline.”

This argument is not a solution : it’s hiding the fact that now you cannot avoid to be online. Your CV’s online, your friends’ photos are online. The web is the people. The true question is : how can you actively control the available data of you online ? How can you positively “market” yourself ?

Nature 2.0 hates emptiness. Social media are all about conversations and if you’re not the interlocutor that people are expecting, someone will talk in your name

Offline and online reputations are similar : you build them because of your actions, because of your presence and because of your opinions. It doesn’t mean that you have to tell everything to the world, but that you have to “promote” or “push” the explicit views which will paradoxically protect you when you’re passive online.

Some more posts I recommend you to read 😉 :

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