Because Some People Share A Lot Of Info On Facebook, We Should Admit We've Given Up All Privacy Rights?
from the really-now? dept
While I don’t always agree with Frank Rich, he often does write thoughtful pieces on various current events, but his recent piece arguing that “privacy has jumped the shark,” and that Ed Snowden’s revelations are no big deal because people don’t care about privacy, is a complete train wreck. The basic argument is that because some people share lots of things on Facebook, and other people go on reality TV, it means that no one cares about privacy any more.
The truth is that privacy jumped the shark in America long ago. Many of us not only don’t care about having our privacy invaded but surrender more and more of our personal data, family secrets, and intimate yearnings with open eyes and full hearts to anyone who asks and many who don’t, from the servers of Fortune 500 corporations to the casting directors of reality-television shows to our 1.1 billion potential friends on Facebook. Indeed, there’s a considerable constituency in this country—always present and now arguably larger than ever—that’s begging for its privacy to be invaded and, God willing, to be exposed in every gory detail before the largest audience possible.
Except, that conflates a variety of different issues. Yes, some people choose to share some information about their lives in a very public way. And, certainly, some people think that others “overshare.” But, in all of those cases, it’s generally the person themselves choosing what information to share and how it’s shared. They may want to share lots of information that others would want to be kept private, but nothing in that suggests that Americans do not value their privacy.
It’s a hack argument.
He spends many paragraphs going on about the rise of reality TV, never bothering to note that very few people actually appear on reality TV, and an awful lot of people in the public, even those who religiously watch reality TV, would probably have no actual interest in appearing on one of those shows. Part of the appeal is the fact that you get to watch those idiots who seem to not have recognized the typical boundaries that prevent oversharing. Anyone suggesting, as Rich appears to do, that Americans get their beliefs on privacy from how the Robertsons from Duck Dynasty live, or how the Kardashian clan spends their time has a really warped sense of the American public.
Rich’s piece then goes on with the old argument about how anyone who paid attention already knew about this NSA spying. But that’s simply not true. Many, many people suspected it and pointed to hints and scraps of information that indicated it was going on. But the response from the media was generally that there wasn’t enough proof to support those claims, or they were so far out to be in tinfoil hat territory. Snowden’s leaks have done a hell of a lot to reveal the actual details, including the deception of public officials — and the failure of the media to be diligent in getting to the bottom of this story.
Privacy is not an easy issue, and there’s a lot of nuance. To argue that because some people choose to reveal some things, we should all just shut up about actual privacy violations by the government is ridiculous.