The New Social

Bob and Evan waiting for the rain to stop
Bob and Evan Lose Their Privacy To A Rainstorm © Me

Scott McNealy’s 1999 dystopian assessment “there’s no privacy on the Web, get over it” no longer seems debatable…but it may be worse than we thought.

Anonymity–a kind of privacy–is a new social business model where ventures like, whisper, and Yik-Yak are securing funding rounds. Anonymous media sites leverage anonymity, GPS, and compulsive posting to display thoughts in your vicinity—the local temperature. It yields surprising information. Already, has streamed shockingly accurate predictions. Imagine reading a post that your boss is interviewing your replacement. That is exactly what’s been happening. And the converse is also true…people interviewing at other firms are being outed on these anonymous sites. Imagine the harm that could be done with false postings on an anonymous social network…anonymity is a weapon of mass destruction in the war on privacy.

Bob & Evan lost their privacy due to a rainstorm that forced them to sit down together. Today, humans are losing their privacy in a maelstrom of anonymity. It really makes us wonder…

Is destroying each other’s privacy the new social?


There’s A 34% Chance I’m Not Human

“Tolerance” on Allen Parkway – Houston …photo/nick

What if your social IQ as measured by followers, re-posts, and retweets is bogus? “Social Bots” are non-human poseurs that follow, tweet, retweet, and siphon social bitstreams to game the ad-revenue system. In a stroke of Promethean irony celebrities and politicians now find a large percentage of their followers to be fake people.

Young researchers at Texas A&M and Indiana University have been working for years to detect fingerprints of social bots. Partially supported by DARPA, they recently posted a Web service called Bot, or Not (HERE) where you can enter any Twitter id to determine the likelihood it’s a Social Bot. Full disclosure…there’s a 34% chance that I’m not human.

For an interesting¬†expos√© see “How to Spot a Social Bot on Twitter.”