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Privacy on the Web, right or responsibility

2 min read


SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

Last week’s poll question: Are we entitled to unchecked privacy on the Web?

  • Yes — the right to privacy should be absolute – 45.96%
  • Protecting online privacy is not our right, but our responsibility  – 42.28%
  • No — there should be no expectation of privacy online  – 6.25%
  • Privacy on the Web is an overblown issue  – 5.51%

As you can see, respondents to the poll are almost equally divided between those who believe privacy is a right and those who believe we have to take personal responsibility in order to ensure it.

I have never assumed privacy to be a right. In fact, I operate under the assumption that online privacy is almost an oxymoron. If you are going to put yourself out there, you need to do so with the understanding that surrendering a certain amount of privacy goes with the territory. Therefore, I fall in the second category, especially as it applies to the use of third-party social networks, and most particularly, Facebook.

While a number of Internet early-adopters – Leo Laporte, Jason Calacanis, Peter Rojas to name a few of the more notable – have deleted their Facebook profiles, I do not believe such an extreme measure is what’s called for. Rather, a more moderate approach, that of monitoring privacy settings, is the path I would advise.

We don’t need to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Monitor your privacy settings and use social networks  like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter as a tool to grow your business.

By the way, a new tool available from has been developed to help you keep tabs on privacy. Check it out. (Hat tip to John Jantsch)

Paul Chaney is an Internet marketing consultant, sought after speaker and author of “The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media,” published by Wiley. Paul sits on the advisory boards for the Social Media Marketing Institute, Modern Media Man Summit and Women’s Wisdom Network.