Buzz, Facebook, Twitter Fuel 'Social Insecurity'

3. Street View evidence gathering. The chances that you personally will appear on Google Street View round to zero. The chances that a great many people will be exposed on Street View doing something embarrassing round to 100%. Thanks to social sharing, every transgression captured by a Google Street View van will be exposed, broadcast, shared and stored forever on hundreds or thousands or millions of hard disks across the world. If you're one of the lucky few caught doing something unpleasant on Street View, people you know will find out about it. And funny photos are forever.

4. Social group mixing. It's easy to forget who's following you. Facebook users often post compromising information. Somebody might, for example, report the he called in sick to go to the beach -- forgetting that his boss is one of his Facebook friends. Young people might have peers in mind when they post, and forget that mother is lurking. And on social networks like Twitter or Buzz, it's possible that people you know are following you under a pseudonym.

5. Set-it-and-forget-it sharing. New social services come along all the time. We sign up, try them, then forget about them when newer and shinier things come along. For example, Google came out with the Latitude location service a long time ago. Did you try it? If so, did you turn it off? Are you still trackable? The harsh reality is that most of us have no idea if we've left a trail of privacy-compromising services in our wake.

McNealy was right of course. Theoretically we have zero privacy. A motivated and skillful person or organization can always learn things about us that we'd rather keep to ourselves.

It's still a good idea to practice common sense when using the Internet. Don't blather information that could be useful to crooks. Be careful about what you share, and whom you share with. Take care in broadcasting your location, either manually or automatically. But even the most meticulous anti-social-networker can't really achieve true privacy.

The strange new reality of "social insecurity" is this: The best we can do is make the violation of our privacy a little less convenient for those who would exploit us.

Mike Elgan writes about technology and global tech culture. Contact Mike at mike.elgan@elgan.com, follow him onTwitteror his blog,The Raw Feed.

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