Going Steady: Peggy Sue Has My Facebook PasswordNitin Sumangali |
Despite the best intentions of parents, educators, and the media, teenagers continue to engage in risky behaviors that adults don’t approve of. I’m talking about teens sharing their Internet passwords with their boyfriends and girlfriends. The wisdom of this trend highlights an important issue in digital culture that is transforming how people—and businesses—act online: How are notions of privacy and security online evolving?
“Privacy” and “security” are often used together but don’t mean exactly the same thing. Privacy means the right to determine how your information is going to be used. Security means that the information will not be used for harm. The sharing of passwords between girlfriends and boyfriends demonstrates that teenagers do not perceive a risk of either having their privacy or their security compromised. They are fine with the sharing of information—as long those they share their information with are individuals or companies that can be trusted and/or that they receive a benefit in return. In the case of romantic relationships, it is greater intimacy and a deeper bond. For others they share with online, it could be something else entirely.
The article in The New York Times talks about teenagers across America displaying their affection for their partners by choosing to share e-mail, Facebook, and other passwords. These teens are not oblivious to the risks of such sharing, but rather are doing it because it is risky, and therefore do it as a sign of trust. Tiffany Caradang, a high school student from San Francisco quoted in the article, notes “I have nothing to hide from him, and he has nothing to hide from me.”
Companies who use the web as a sales channel, a marketing channel, or a product itself must understand the issues and societal perception of privacy and security. By proving that they can be trusted and are not going to harm their users, companies can solidify relationships with consumers and position themselves to provide these consumers with the right services at the right time. In return, they will gain customers who will tell their friends “It’s all right, I trust them.”
Topics: Payments Strategy