February 21, 2013

Trends Shaping Social Media: Going Private in Public

Posted by: in North America

To kick off Social Media Week in New York, JWTIntelligence’s Ann Mack, Director of Trendspotting at JWT, outlined a trend that we’re calling Going Private in Public. This evolution of our relationship with social media will shape consumer behavior in 2013 and beyond.

Mack noted that in an era in which living publicly is has become the default, people are finding creative ways to carve out private spaces in their lives. Rather than rejecting social media and sharing tools, people are still reaping the benefits of maintaining a vibrant digital identity while gradually defining a new notion of privacy for the 21st century.

At the heart of this trend is the fact that consumers are quickly coming to realize that ultimate control of their online privacy is out of their hands. With a few lines of code, Web titans can destroy carefully walled gardens. And it’s not just the Web powers-that-be that can toy with an individual’s public persona—it’s also tag-happy, share-happy friends who don’t realize that just because something is public information or done in public doesn’t mean that people want it publicized.

People are responding to this shift in privacy ownership by policing and pruning their profiles, deleting friends, untagging photos and removing unwanted comments. Some are telling friends not to tag them in photos and status updates. Others are pulling away from Facebook altogether, opting instead for more exclusive social networks based on niche interests or with limited connections.

Recognizing this trend toward privacy, Mack outlined how some developers are creating tools—such as Snapchat, TigerText and Burn Note—that help users protect their privacy by erasing their digital histories.

Mack noted that the question is not whether online privacy is dead but, rather, how to enable people to control the digital information stream connected to their personal lives as their needs and relationships evolve.

Check out the video outlining some of the findings above.

Video from the event is available here.

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