“Frictionless sharing” and internet speech

This is, in fact, a link post.

First of all Bruce Schneier posts the abstract of a paper titled “The Perils of Social Reading”:

Companies like Facebook, in collaboration with many newspapers, have ushered in the era of “social reading,” in which what we read may be “frictionlessly shared” with our friends and acquaintances. Disclosure and sharing are on the rise.

This Article sounds a cautionary note about social reading and frictionless sharing. Social reading can be good, but the ways in which we set up the defaults for sharing matter a great deal. Our reader records implicate our intellectual privacy ­ the protection of reading from surveillance and interference so that we can read freely, widely, and without inhibition. I argue that the choices we make about how to share have real consequences, and that “frictionless sharing” is not frictionless, nor it is really sharing. Although sharing is important, the sharing of our reading habits is special. Such sharing should be conscious and only occur after meaningful notice.

Previously, Schneier has pointed out that privacy is about controlling information, not keeping it secret.  I’m not particularly convinced that information about one’s reading habits is privileged over, say, information about one’s drinking habits or information about one’s fucking habits, mind, but the principle still applies.

While we’re on the subject of internet speech, control, and sharing, Ken over at Popehat has

Who’s this guy?  Ken has the skinny:

Ostensibly, George Tierney, Jr. of Greenville, South Carolina is a man who, using the twitter handle @geotie2323, wrote crass and contemptible tweets to Sandra Fluke when he disagreed with a political point she was making. When his comments were featured on the blog Tbogg, he reacted with silly legal threats.

Yep.  Tierney tweeted — that is, broadcast — some crass and contemptible things to Fluke, and then demanded that they be “taken off google” or he’d sue.  Ken reacts as we’ve come to expect:

[W]hat the fucking fuck? Seriously? From whence comes this all-to-common sentiment that you can act any damnfool way you like in public, but people can’t comment on it? Where do nominal adults get the idea that it’s somehow actionable to be quoted? Is this a signifier of culture shock — a sign that we haven’t worked out, in our own minds, whether the internet is public or private? Is it the incoherent grumble of a populace instructed that self-esteem is paramount, and raised to feel entitled to respect whether or not their conduct is respectable? Or is it simply a sign of atrocious civic education?

(Unwelcome pedantry: “Whence” literally means “from where”.  “From whence” thus expands to “From from where”, which is silly.  Don’t do it, kids!)

Perhaps part of the problem is that the private part of the internet looks more or less like the public part of the internet, with various forums and login screens blurring the line between the two.  It’s all HTML text fields and Javascript interfaces between you and some server way off over the wire.

And finally, here’s Robin Hanson kicking over my giggle box:

If the people willing to like a comment have on average better taste than the people willing to write a comment, readers and authors could avoid low quality comments by focusing on the most liked comments. It isn’t obvious why this assumption should hold, but I thought likes probably couldn’t make comments much worse, so, why not give it a try.

If my experience is any indication, Hanson just needs to write more about Formula One.


3 Responses to ““Frictionless sharing” and internet speech”

  1. May 23, 2012 at 12:21

    Perhaps part of the problem is that the private part of the internet looks more or less like the public part of the internet, with various forums and login screens blurring the line between the two. It’s all HTML text fields and Javascript interfaces between you and some server way off over the wire.

    That’s still pretty weaksauce from this Tierney wanker, though, since even if he’d just send straight up public key encrypted direct emails to Fluke, she’d still have the right to post what he said for all the world to see.

    • May 23, 2012 at 12:31

      Oh yeah, I’m not defending Tierney here even a little. I was more or less musing on people’s propensity to post things on Twitter that they’d be embarrassed to say over lunch at work.

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