The meme of me: creepy or cool?

Have you noticed that many apps and websites these days allow you to login with your Facebook information?  Do you use that feature?  I tend not to, not wanting Facebook to track my website usage, or provide another way for my activities to get posted on my timeline automatically.  Facebook claims that this is benign; although they theoretically have the ability to track your usage (even after you logout, according to one blogger), they don’t intend to.  I figure the horse is so far out of the barn on privacy issues that there is not much you can do these days to prevent people from collecting information on you.

Case in point: when joining Pinterest a few weeks ago, I was required to connect to Facebook.  Without my consent to allow a Pinterest app on my timeline, I would not have been allowed to join.  I did find later that within Pinterest settings, you can turn off this feature – but it is the default.

Last week in class, three students brought in similar items for show-and-tell — all having to do with websites that created content by pulling information from Facebook or other sources.  The first, a little Intel app, is called The Museum of Me:

When you connect through Facebook, the app walks you through a museum where you are the main exhibit.  Different rooms showcase your friends, your likes, and your status updates.  It’s slick and a lot of fun, and Intel makes a point of letting you know that your information isn’t saved.

But is it also a bit creepy?  My students thought so, and apparently others do too.  One of the newest surprises making the rounds is Take This Lollipop, a riff on the childhood fear of never taking candy from a stranger.  When you are logged in to Facebook and click on the Take This Lollipop link, a creepy stalker appears:

You then watch as the stalker scrolls through your Facebook page, drools as he looks through your pictures, and gets into the car with your profile picture duct-taped to his dashboard.  Go ahead, try it.  I dare ya.

What does all of this have to do with arts organizations?  Now that these kinds of uses of information are commonplace, it is more necessary than ever for organizations to adopt and follow social media policies, including establishing privacy settings, monitoring administrators, providing disclaimers and responding to online abuse.  Here is one good article on developing a social media policy.  I’m sure there are many more.

Do you have one?

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About Ellen Rosewall

I am Professor and Chair of Arts Management and author of Arts Management: Uniting Arts and Audiences in the 21st Century (Oxford University Press, 2013). I believe that arts and culture are undergoing a profound change in the 21st century, and I love talking with people about how we continue to bring arts to our communities and individuals give the brave new world of social media, technology and economic changes. Join the conversation!
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