Thursday, April 9, 2020

4 factors of online obscurity

A law paper by Woodrow Hartzog and Frederic D. Stutzman notes that a lot of online information isn’t so much completely private but rather obscure, hard enough to access that most people won’t bother trying.

They describe four factors that can lead to obscurity online:

• first, whether your post can be found in search or whether a would-be finder needs to click through an obscure trail of links to find it;

• second, whether your post is restricted to certain people (such as by friendship status or a password);

• third, whether you’re identifiable by name, pseudonym, or not at all; and

• fourth, how clearly understandable the post is, even if someone comes across it who shouldn’t.

After all, it doesn’t matter so much if a post is technically completely public. If no one knows it’s there, that you wrote it, or what it means, it’s still effectively private through its obscurity.
Source: Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch

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