On Thursday, the White House pulled back the curtain on its "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights," a presidential attempt to clamp down on the misuse of online user data. The document itself and the government's broader initiative to better monitor what's happening online will undoubtedly ruffle some feathers on both sides of the issue. Privacy is a thing -- it's in the original Bill of Rights after all! -- but it's a complicated thing. What really matters here? Let's discuss.
Less privacy can lead to a richer user experience. This is not just Facebook propaganda. As tired as the phrase now sounds, the future of the Web is social, and it's already here. Do you like your friends? Then you'll probably like what they get up to on all the Internet websites and mobile apps and whatnot. Opening up your privacy settings and sharing more of what you're doing can make it not only easier to connect with friends online but also more fun!
Take Spotify, for example. My esteemed colleague on the other side of this debate works out of our DC headquarters whereas I'm in New York. So we never get to listen to the same jams. I tried sending her a song just a minute ago, but she didn't get it because she had all of her privacy settings cranked up. That's not fun. Had she connected her Spotify account to Facebook we could be collaborating on The Atlantic Wire playlists and DJing the office party, from hundreds of miles apart. That is fun. It's debatable whether or not apps like Spotify should restrict certain features based on privacy settings, but for now, it feels like opening yourself up to the full benefits of the social Web is the thing to do. What's the worst thing that can happen if you let all of your friends see what you're listening to? This.