Recently on the news: "A company fires an employee after posting a negative message about his employer on Facebook". What happened? An employee told his friends on Facebook how dissatisfied he was with his employer. The employer was reading along and, based on that message, decided to say farewell to its employee. To some people it seemed like the world briefly stopped spinning.
The press instantly consulted some 'specialists' who could share their view on the matter. The big Satan in the story was Facebook, so said the expert in the news. The entire privacy story (or lack of) of Facebook was discussed in detail: "It is a disgrace that such sites can simply (ab)use the user's personal details." The expert advised companies and consumers to stay away from this new Satan. Even the European Commission should urgently look into the privacy story. So far the day's main headline...
By now I'm really fed up with this privacy discussion. Let's take a closer look at it. Who is in the wrong in this case: Facebook or the company's employee? The answer is clear, don't you think?
Individuals are responsible for their own actions
The core is extremely clear to me: individuals are responsible for their own actions, and trying to shift the blame to a website is taking it a few steps too far.
When an employee thinks it is necessary to share negative and inappropriate statements about his company on social media, that's his own responsibility in the first place. The moment someone decides to share personal data on the web, you simply know the info is out there and will stay there. This may entail positive as well as negative consequences. Some are more aware than others of course, but some are also simply smarter than others.
You can compare it to real life. Some people always manage to hang out with the wrong friends and say the wrong things to the wrong people; and this entails a great deal of problems for them. Personally, I think it's their problem. On the other hand, other people are really smart in connecting with the right people. They rapidly move forward in life: it is their merit. In other words; the 'new world' is not that new and abrupt. The people who used to get in trouble simply do so quicker now and face a larger audience... Ditto for the positive consequences of social media: smart people always have advantages in life, and today those advantages have become bigger, since more people can enjoy their talents. I think that's a great evolution.
Transparency works both ways
Furthermore, I think that consumers who complain about privacy are usually hypocrites. When they play the consumer, they expect total transparency from companies , and I support that thought for the full 200%. Fortunately, it has become difficult for a brand to keep up appearances.
However, when a consumer (quite rightfully) becomes that demanding towards professional brands, one should also bear the consequences. After all, our society sets the same conditions for human brands. And a discussion about privacy will not solve that situation.
The more I think about it, the more similarities I see between consumers and companies. They are both forced to be smarter with their brand. And, after all, every consumer is a brand, don't you agree?
Transparency turns us into nicer people
As a consumer, you have to fully use all positive consequences of transparency. After all, if you worry that much about your privacy, I think it means that there is a lot you would prefer the world not to know. So you better ask yourself whether you should do those things. The transparent world forces us to become nicer people. It's much better to take that approach rather than discuss about protecting the old way of life, isn't it?
The world keeps spinning whilst the discussion is ongoing, and every day the transparency increases. Every day the advantages become clearer to our society. Once the discussion on privacy is finished, it will turn out to have been a non-item.