If Kant said that you should lead your life thinking that if your behavior was adopted by all, society would continue to function normally, I would say that the new Categorical Imperative in a world of social media should be “live your life as if it was always publicly exposed”

Yes there is privacy and there are some intimate moments that most would appreciate that you keep private.  But there are some actions that are so obviously wrong should they be exposed that they are simply unethical. And thinking of social media is a good way to judge if anything was right or wrong. Something like, could I live with a video in Youtube of me at this moment? Or could this be a photo in my timeline? Or could somebody Tweet about me right now? Or could somebody write a Tumblr post about whatever it is that I am doing. That should be enough to help you decide if what you are doing is right or wrong.

As far as I am concerned I live my life as if my email was perennially hacked. Because sooner or later, it will be :)

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

No Comments

rustlem on November 11, 2012  · 

“everybody wants to be naked and famous” as the song goes.

I had dinner 10 yrs ago with a privacy advocate. I realised after 5 minutes that he was completely wasting his time. Privacy is, at best, a temporary phenomenon. As you said, your email hasn’t been hacked yet, nor required in an e-discovery process. We better get used to the idea that everything we say and do (at least electronically) may come back to haunt us.

And, as you say, we need to change our behaviour. We tell our kids not to say anything about someone that they wouldn’t be prepared to say to the person directly. In practice we’ll act a little better and be a little more forgiving. What we should be worrying about is ensuring equality of access to information. Sure, you can see mine as long as I can see yours.

Martin Varsavsky on November 11, 2012  · 

In 1999 I was hit with the happy99.exe virus. It took all my Word documents, cut parts of those and email them randomly to everyone I knew. Turned out that I kept my private diary in Word. Not that I had major secrets or that I was permanently damaged by this. But it was a warning. No virus hits since then. But still the same principle. Whatever you write, well, anyone may read.

Kevin F. Adler on November 12, 2012  · 

Martin, this strikes me as a recipe for inauthenticity. While I think the “is this action one I’d be willing to share with others?” is generally a fine moral guide, thinking of whether each action is one I’d share publicly or not leads to broadcasting and self-presentation.

Martin Varsavsky on November 12, 2012  · 

you have a point, but at the same time it is so hard to keep things private, to make sure they will never be exposed, that we are all leading almost public lives whether we like it or not

you see what happened to Petraeus…head of the CIA and can’t keep a secret

Martin Vives on November 17, 2012  · 

What if you don’t agree with the Moral Consensus?

It baffles me to see that cleptocracy is more socially accepted than adultery.

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