Jeffrey Rosen, law professor at George Washington University (GWU), has called the current incarnation of the Internet “a digital world that never forgets” in a recent piece on privacy for the The New York Times.
It’s an astute article looking at the idea of segmented identities, the search for a way to safely control our online identities, and some interesting speculation on digital reputations and their possible importance in the future.
Of particular interest to me are two studies Rosen weaves into his story on how privacy on the Internet influences our lives and how we can be nudged to become more privacy aware:
According to a recent survey by Microsoft, 75 percent of U.S. recruiters and human-resource professionals report that their companies require them to do online research about candidates, and many use a range of sites when scrutinizing applicants — including search engines, social-networking sites, photo- and video-sharing sites, personal Web sites and blogs, Twitter and online-gaming sites. Seventy percent of U.S. recruiters report that they have rejected candidates because of information found online, like photos and discussion-board conversations and membership in controversial groups.
According to M. Ryan Calo, who runs the consumer-privacy project at Stanford Law School, experimenters studying strategies of “visceral notice” have found that when people navigate a Web site in the presence of a human-looking online character who seems to be actively following the cursor, they disclose less personal information than people who browse with no character or one who appears not to be paying attention.