Can The Privacy Revolution Prevail?


How many of you were suckered by the Facebook privacy hoax and posted the scary note revoking Facebook’s rights to your pictures and data? Oops. Snopes has pointed outthat Facebook never owned your data. The message is useless. You control who sees your information through Facebook privacy controls, but by agreeing to the site’s terms of use you are granting Facebook a “non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any content you post.”

But the number of people who’ve posted point to a very real phenomenon: the growing sensitivity of consumers to websites that share or sell your information. While some uses of the information are helpful (predictive analytics increase vender sales and consumer efficiency by honing in on the items you are likely to buy), the backlash over actions such as secret subject testing, data mining and NSA overreach is propelling a tidal wave of revolt.

A 2014 Harris Interactive HPOL +% poll showed that almost every American (99%) cares about their online privacy, with 71% saying they ‘care deeply’. A TRUSTe 2014 Privacy Indexrevealed that 76% of Internet users claimed they were more likely to check websites and apps for privacy certification or seals.

Could this wave direct the Internet’s future?

This week I interviewed privacy advocate Mark Weinstein, CEO of, a new online communications network for privacy-conscious users. The network is free for use of up to 8 GB of storage and allows users to specify exactly who can see or share their information or posts. Most importantly, the site is built on the promise that MeWe does not own, track or share the information users post on its site.

Weinstein, a longtime social media pundit and HuffPost contributor, believes we are witnessing a full-on privacy revolution, with consumers demanding increasingly more control over the ways companies use their personal information. And when consumers feel strongly, vendors are compelled to oblige.

Apple AAPL -0.69% CEO Tim Cook has taken unprecedented steps to express his strong advocacy towards privacy. MeWe Advisory Board member Sir Tim Berners-Lee has gone even further, calling publicly for a new Magna Carta to emerge to control the mess society has made of the Internet. Even the elephant in the room, Facebook, is doing a public relations about-face. A few years ago, CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared that privacy was “a social norm of the past.” Now he singles out the platform’s privacy features.

Comments (0)

Leave a comment