Connecting the Social Graph: the cure is worse than the disease

Who cares most about putting together a holistic picture of your friends and associates:

  • you? You can eliminate the repetitive task of adding friends to networks
  • marketers? They can infiltrate the social network and spam you through your networks of friends
  • government analysts? They get to more easily trace people who know people who oppose government policies, attend anti-war demonstrations, protest factory farms.
  • insurance companies? They can tailor your coverage based on whether your friends smoke or are sexually active

Brad Fitzpatrick and David Recordon are enthusiastic about reducing the inconvenience and friction of a disconnected social graph. But it seems to me that the cure is worse than the disease. Reducing friction introduced by different services in different social contexts is moderately convenient for individuals, and very handy for institutions that don’t have peoples’ best interests at heart.
Ross Mayfield pointed to privacy concerns here, and Danny O’Brien of EFF talked about them in a privacy session at BarCampBlock, the raw notes are here

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