Thursday 10 January 2013

On Privacy

Privacy isn't a thing I'm too worried about. I Tweet under my real name. I have a Facebook, and I haven't even met some of my "friends". But I've been thinking a lot about privacy here.

The way I deal with privacy online is by omission. There are things - some things that are quite large parts of my life - that I simply do not speak about.

This may surprise Twitter followers, but it's true.

Some things are too long-form to discuss coherently. Some things I find triggering when others talk about them, so I avoid talking about them myself. Some things are to protect other people's privacy. Some things are simply too personal.

Writing about myself is one thing - but can I write about my friends? How about friends of friends? Strangers?

On my Twitter, there's a cast of characters, as well as real-life people I interact with. I live with Flatmate, and work with Boss and Coworkers 1 through 5. There's also Pal, Paramour and Flatmate's Girlfriend. Some of these people are real people with identities that don't shift (like Flatmate), and others are just a convenient marker (like a conversation between Coworker 1 and Coworker 2). Some of these characters read my Twitter - some don't. There's privacy issues there, and I make an effort to obfuscate things where people aren't aware they're being talked about (like Flatmate - I honestly don't think you could identify Flatmate. I've never used their name, or even precisely pinned down their gender). When a person doesn't know they're being talked about, it's important to me that I don't insult them or identify them.

When a person - like Paramour - is reading my tweets - well - that's a little different. Their identities aren't very secret. They're often sitting right there as I tweet, and I can ask "Is this okay?" or they can ask me to delete it.

I have deleted things on request.

There are things I cannot post about. Things that I have been a part of but belong to other people. Things that would break their hearts to write about, which is a shame because they're just so damn funny.

Ask me about those things in person instead.


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