What Privacy Concerns Mean for Enterprise 2.0

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Melanie Turek, Contributor

April 14, 2008

2 Min Read

Arecent survey by Harris Interactive has found that 59% of Americans don't feel comfortable having commercial web sites using their personal information to target ads and other content toward them. This, depite the fact that such targeting presumably helps users, making the content they see more relevant and more interesting.The numbers didn't improve significantly with the possibility of enhanced security and privacy regulations, although more people did say they were "somewhat comfortable" with the concept, if not wholeheartedly enthusiastic about it. I think these privacy concerns go beyond clear-cut worries about what companies will do with personal information (say, sell it to others, or leave it exposed to fraud or other criminal behavior), and speak to a less concrete but more ingrained fear of revelation; most Americans just don't want to share all that much about themselves with strangers.Before you cry out "Ahem, Melanie, have you even heard of YouTube or MySpace?" let me explain. Obviously, some of us like to share information--but we still want to control what we share, and with whom. And most of us who do are under the age of 30. But according to the survey, only 49% of respondents under 30 said they were "comfortable" with tailored content (although that number jumps to 62% when security and privacy are emphasized). So although Americans are happy to throw themselves out there, they're not all that happy about having what they throw up be used by others in unexpected ways.So what does this mean for companies looking to leverage Web 2.0 technologies in the enterprise? Don't bet too much on having your employees jump at the chance to share intimate details of their lives--or even their jobs. As you deploy enterprise 2.0 technologies and hope to leverage them to democratize development in your organization, keep in mind that it's not just the technology that needs to change--attitudes toward information sharing do, too.

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