Secrecy vs Privacy

There is a difference between secrecy and privacy. Secrecy is the hiding of facts from the light of day. Privacy is the ability to be by oneself. Alone. Undisturbed.

With the arrival of the Internet, mobile phones and social media, secrecy is dead. There are no more secrets. This makes the world a better place. Research conducted with groups of convicts shows that people do not commit crime to get rich. People commit crime because they think they’ll get away with it.

No more secrets equals no more crime. Except by sociopaths.

Think of some examples. Would Apartheid have survived the Internet? Knowing then what they know now, most white people would have revolted. What about the Rwandan genocide in 1994? One million people physically hacked to death with machetes over a period of thirty days. Today that would be impossible. Someone would have tweeted, or MMS’d, or SMS’d within hours and the world would have known what’s happening.

The US Army couldn’t even eliminate Osama Bin Laden without someone leaking the news via an eyewitness account on Twitter!

Social media means the end of secrecy. There will be no more escaping discovery. The only baddies will be the afore-mentioned sociopaths, and the prisons are big enough to handle them.

Privacy is different. There is nothing inherently wrong or unethical about wanting to be left alone. Au contraire, it is almost a basic human need to have alone-time. This is where Facebook fails in its understanding of The People. We don’t want to have all our information shared with everyone all the time.

We want privacy in our lives, and we want the right to share personal information at our own discretion with people that we choose.

Another thing Facebook doesn’t grasp is that rich people have options. They can escape the maddening crowd.

What about those without money? What about The People? Have you ever spent time in a South African township? Is there ever a moment of peace and quiet? What happens when you simply want to escape, have some me-time?

It’s impossible. Unless you have money, you simply can’t be by yourself for any meaningful period of time. Enter the Internet. The Internet accessed via mobile phones provides the means for escaping the crowds for those that can’t afford to physically escape. Virtual worlds are the streets where the poor can wander, alone, free of the ties and burdens of daily reality.

Anonymity is a key ingredient for this escapism. It’s easy for Mark Zuckerberg to insist on no anonymity. He has the power, brains, and money to stand behind his thoughts. Not so for most people on this planet.

The platforms that will take over the world are those that enable community whilst protecting the privacy and identity of the members of the community. Secrets are a thing of the past, but privacy is the key to the future.