A private conversation about social media

Cone of silence from Get Smart
Cone of silence from 'Get Smart'

We have been up to our eyeballs with social media at the c word office; tweet this, upload pic here, accept friend request, retweet there. Our fingertips are suffering from exhaustion. 😛

Last week we hit the road with leading privacy and social media expert Mozelle Thompson in Australia for the International Association of Privacy Professionals conference. As we ferried him from interview to meeting to interview, we got the chance to chat about social media.

Along the way we asked for his top four social media issues and although he laughed at our penchant for even numbers, he was happy to oblige.

According to Mozelle the top four issues for social media are:

  1. how advertising will work?
  2. the lack of discussion around the limits of transparency
  3. legal responsibility for user-generated content, and
  4. the desire to ‘switch off’.

To start with Mozelle said: “People are looking at behavioural advertising … but I don’t think people understand what that means”.

“If you ask them: ‘Do you want ads targeted to you based on your profile?’ they might say ‘no’. But then you say: ‘Is the problem that you don’t want ads … because if you want it for free you’re going to have to have ads and if you’re going to get ads then would you want ads targeted to you?’ they would say ‘yes’.”

Mozelle believes (and we concur) the dialogue hasn’t progressed enough in the public eye. Let’s not keep this conversation private.

We wondered how this applies to online newspapers without established social networks and Mozelle believes we’ll see more partnerships with websites who want to target ads to you based on your demographic – so it will seem more seamless.

“The question is are you willing to give permission for targeted ads as opposed to general ads?”

On the issue of transparency, Mozelle said while we want governments to let us know about what they’re doing and what our neighbours are doing, it gives the public a lot of information about you.

He said: “It’s a global issue but especially in western societies where we’ve made this big push towards government transparency but haven’t defined what that means yet”.

The third issue Mozelle brought up was around who is ultimately legally responsible for user generated content.

“There’s this continuing war, just because it’s on YouTube, is YouTube responsible for someone putting on content that you find offensive or objectionable? You don’t hold newspapers responsible if somebody puts a crappy ad in.”

The fourth issue which made us hide our Blackberries and iPhones was that at some point, not right away, there may be a reaction to this real time availability of information.

“You may have a backlash from some people who decide they don’t want to be reachable. Are we going to start creating digital technologies that allow you to disconnect?”

And in between all of that we’ve kicked off a social media campaign for Run for a Safe Climate. We started with a training session for the runners and volunteers involved with Run for a Safe Climate – the question now is “how will they tweet while running?”

Have a great week,

the c word