MediaFile

Privacy and digital reputation: Five predictions for 2011

- Michael Fertik is the CEO and Founder of ReputationDefender, the online privacy and reputation company. The views expressed are his own. -

Digital reputation and privacy literally became the stuff of legend and movies this year (WikiLeaks, The Social Network). But stay tuned for 2011: we are going to see more dramatic shakeouts in the commercial, personal, and governmental spheres. The central question is whether the public, business community, and policymakers will come to grips with the many fault lines of digital control of information or if they will either pretend that it’s not a problem or that tiny, incremental steps are real solutions.

Here are some concrete predictions for the year:

1. “Reputation Manager” appears as a title at 25 Fortune 500 companies.

Reputation and privacy are positioned to overtake malware and virus as the biggest threats to corporate digital security. WikiLeaks is said to have 2,000 mirror sites operating.  Leakers are on the march. Not only are the reputations of companies vulnerable to all the would-be Assanges of the world, any employee or customer with a mobile phone can do equal damage (evidence: Domino’s employee nose pick). In today’s news-driven environment, where anyone can be a broadcaster, companies must understand the strategic advantage of proactively building and maintaining a bulletproof corporate reputation, which will include the reputation and privacy of its employee and commercial secrets.

2. You get a dollar value assigned to your online reputation and to your personal information online.

Privacy regulation and the “free” Internet

Adam Thierer is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The views expressed are his own.

Would you like to pay $20 a month for Facebook, or a dime every time you did a search on Google or Bing?  That’s potentially what is at stake if the Obama administration and advocates of stepped-up regulation of online advertising get their way.

The Internet feels like the ultimate free lunch.  Once we pay for basic access, a cornucopia of seemingly free services and content is at our fingertips.  But those services don’t just fall to Earth like manna from heaven.  What powers the “free” Internet are data collection and advertising. In essence, the relationship between consumers and online content and service providers isn’t governed by any formal contract, but rather by an unwritten quid pro quo: tolerate some ads or we’ll be forced to charge you for service.  Most consumers gladly take that deal—even if many of them gripe about annoying or intrusive ads, at times.

WikiPiques: Let’s all just calm down

John Abell is New York bureau chief for Wired.com. The opinions expressed are his own.

The pariah du jour to the United States and the countries who do business with it is one Julian Assange, a soft-spoken Australian whose motives may be obscure but whose life work is pretty clear. The founder of WikiLeaks, Assange is the whistleblower’s whistleblower, enabling the disclosure of anything in digital form — which, in the age of the Internet, is everything.

The drama to marginalize/silence/demonize Assange is playing out like a (bad) Hollywood script, but the stakes — to commerce, to free speech, to the freedom of the Internet — are quite real. It’s a good time to take a deep breath.

In Google-Groupon talks, size matters

“Think small and act small, and we’ll get bigger. Think big and act big, and we’ll get smaller.”

I came across this quote recently from Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest Airlines and my namesake (but no relation). I thought of it again this weekend when reports emerged that e-coupon star Groupon had rebuffed Google’s generous $6 billion bid for an acquisition.

In the business of building the web, small companies dream of staying private, suckling the ample teats of venture capital, until a successful IPO makes everyone rich. Big companies have a ton of cash and use it to buy small companies, which then get lost inside the big company’s culture and never really realize their potential.

Should you trust Facebook with your email?

INTERNET-SOCIALMEDIA/PRIVACY- Michael Fertik is the CEO and Founder of ReputationDefender, the online privacy and reputation company. The views expressed are his own. -

Facebook already knows a massive amount about you.  They know your age, what you look like, what you like, what you do for fun, where you go, what you eat, whom you know, whom you know well, whom you sleep with, who your best friends and family are, and, again, how old they are, what they like, and so on.

On top of that, Facebook has a well-known history of privacy breaches or at least snafus.  Publicly they seem committed to the notion that privacy is dead.  Their CEO and Founder has said as much.

Meebo introduces Web site check-in service

A number of Web companies are fighting to become the primary service for people to “check in” to real world locations, like coffee shops and stores.  MeeboLogo

But Meebo believes there’s an equally important need for people to check in to Web sites that’s been overlooked.

Meebo hopes to fill in what it says is a missing piece of Today’s social Web, creating a social network based not just on friends and contacts, but on personal interests.

from Summit Notebook:

Intel, HP: TVs should get smarter

Intel, Sony and Google are expected to unveil on Thursday a "smart TV": an Internet-ready, super content machine that -- if the hype is to be believed -- will let viewers watch Celebrity Apprentice, tweet, and respond to emails at the same time. On Wednesday, Intel's sales and marketing chief -- while keeping his cards close to the vest -- couldn't resist a little plug for the general concept of Internet TVs.

"The smart TV category is going to take off.  It just makes all the sense in the world," Thomas Kilroy told the Reuters Global Technology Summit. "Why would you want to compromise when you've got a nice big screen, you're watching TV and you want to access information and keep that program on instead of bringing in another device. "

"It's our belief that there's going to be a fundmental shift that happens every 30 to 40 years or more...and it's about to happen with televisions," he added. "I actually remember the black and white days. I remember in my house when we went from black and white to color and my gosh, what an experience."

Twitter’s Costolo: not quite footloose and fancy free

You’d think fast-racing Twitter would keep one eye firmly fixed on the rearview and side mirrors.

With the Internet landscape littered with also-rans — from pets.com to AskJeeves.com to a Facebook-steamrolled MySpace — you’d imagine the one thing overnight Internet microblogging phenomenon Twitter would fear the most would be to get displaced by an up-and-comer with the same alarming speed.

Not so. Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo insists no one at the company he has worked at for less than a year worries about two theoretical guys in a garage dreaming up the next social networking sensation.

from The Great Debate UK:

A social media vox populi experiment

IMG01877-20100318-1751The BBC World Service tested its capacity to produce large-scale social media events by hosting an ambitious global conversation in multiple languages from Shoreditch Town Hall in London on Thursday.

For the six-hour event, billed as "Superpower Nation Day", the public broadcaster used television, radio and the Web to connect with people around the world.

Contributors answered the question "Is the Internet a right or a luxury? by typing into a social media platform that used Google's translating tool to interpret comments.

from The Great Debate UK:

Rory Cellan-Jones on virtual democracy

Direct, real-time communication among politicians and the public through social media platforms is reshaping democracy and the news media, but questions remain about how the fabric of society might change as a result, argued a panel at an event hosted by the BBC on Tuesday evening at Westminster.

The Web provides a de-centralised opportunity for users to communicate from various points on the political-economic spectrum, but gatekeepers are emerging who try and curtail the dissemination of information they find objectionable, suggested panellist Aleks Krotoski, who recently completed work on the BBC series "Virtual Revolution".

"Innovative social-media platforms start off being interactive, but then they can become broadcast tools," cautioned Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC's new digital election correspondent.