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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Tracey Holden-Quinn has developed and written content for communications plans and websites, social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter, and blogs. She is experienced with conducting needs analysis, establishing goals, recommending and scheduling tactics and strategies, and evaluating results.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Letting Go of the Expectation of Online Privacy: A Moral Dilemma or a Generational Divide?

Let’s face it – there is no such thing as anonymity or privacy online. Accept the fact that you can’t hide behind the username “chipmonkgiggles_23”. Your moves are being tracked, sorted, and stored; under your real name.

Individuals are able to identify who is behind these usernames at the same rate privacy settings on Facebook are declining. On top of that, Google has the memory of an elephant and never forgets.

But does it really matter?

Is the digital generation collectively guilty of not thinking ahead, revealing too much and distributing online content considered by some to be scandalous and morally unacceptable? Or is it possible they know exactly what they are doing; don’t have a problem with it, and have no concept of an expectation of privacy?

There's been much speculation about the negative ramifications on the future of the digital generation due to their lax value system and poor judgement. “Older” people (say anyone over the age of 25?) constitute the generational digital divide by assuming the younger generation should uphold certain standards of comportment and morality when online or suffer the consequence of being unemployable. The older generation have always known it’s important to separate their role of a responsible and virtuous employee, from their role as a weekend warrior.

It seems the more adults insist that it’s unacceptable and inappropriate to share personal information and photos online, the more young people will reveal their private lives on the internet. Can one compare the shock and outrage over the posting of “scandalous” pictures from last week’s party to the vulgarity and indecency of Elvis Presley’s sultry lips and swinging hips? Will the outrage over the changing moral values of the digital generation become accepted as common place and the culture shift documented in the annals of popular culture books?

Mitch Joel sums it up in his book Six Pixels of Separation:
“..as more and more people mature and enter the workforce, we won’t be able to judge the person who has those wild party pictures posted on Flickr negatively because everybody will have them – including you (and then who will you hire?).”

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