I’m sure all of us, from time to time, meet new people and exchange contact details. We might jot them down into an address book, or more commonly nowadays, we tap their details into our phone or other smart device. It’s a mutual arrangement with a degree of unspoken social etiquette, but how far does that contract extend?
So, with your details locked away safely in your new contacts mobile device you both go about your business. However, unlike the old pen and paper exchange you’ve handed over ownership of your contact details to a third-party – they are out of your control. Obviously, the same could be said for a name and a number in an address book, but that’s where social etiquette comes in. Of course you could extend the same rigour to your online behaviour – but do we?
Anyone that has signed up for any number of social networking accounts will no doubt have been greeted by a screen offering to find your friends that are already using the network. They generally offer a number of ways to do this using various third-party sites. Pictured above is the screen you see just before you hand over your Google address book and all of your contacts’ contact details. And therein is the real question. Do I have the right to do that? When you gave me your details, did you grant me permission to share those details with companies of my choosing?
How about a different scenario? Pictured above are some of the privileges that could be granted by me to a Facebook app of my choosing. In granting these permissions, I have granted this app access to contact details you have chosen to share with me as a friend. Is that what you expected when you gave me your details?
So what does this mean for that traditional social contract? Nothing!
In the always-on, ever-connected, cloud-hosted, fucknut-alfresco world the burden still lays, as it did in the old world, with the person you share your details with. It is our responsibility as owners of the contact list to ensure that we only use the information in a manner that the other party would approve of – airing on the side of caution when we’re unsure. Pen and paper, or smart phone, or tablet, the same rules apply – the contract remains the same. It’s just our behaviours that have changed.
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