Monday, March 12, 2012

Reading Over Your Shoulder: Social Readers and Privacy Law

Kaminski, Margot. “Reading Over Your Shoulder: Social Readers and Privacy Law.” 2 Wake Forest Law Review Online 13, March 2012.

From the introduction: "My friends, who are generally well educated and intelligent, read a lot of garbage. I know this because since September 2011, their taste in news about Justin Bieber, Snooki, and the Kardashians has been shared with me through "social readers" on Facebook. Social readers instantaneously list what you are reading on another website, without asking for your approval before disclosing each individual article you read. They are an example of what Facebook calls "frictionless sharing," where Facebook users ostensibly influence each other's behavior by making their consumption of content on other websites instantly visible to their friends. Many people do not think twice about using these applications, and numerous publications have made them available, including the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Guardian.

I intend to prompt conversation about social readers on three fronts. First, social readers are part of a shift toward real name policies online, and, for a number of reasons, should remain opt-in rather than becoming the default setting. Second, if people do choose to use these applications, they should know that they are making that choice against a backdrop of related battles in privacy law concerning the right to consume content without a third party sharing your activity more broadly. And third, when individuals choose to use these applications, they may be sharing their habits more widely than they think."
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