With The Internet, Our Past Is Now Written In Pen Not Pencil

My raucous (and sometimes embarrassing) student life is captured on some photos that are probably lying curled up in some shoebox in an attic, not stored and backup on hard disks around the world. Not so for the current generation whose lives are on full display.

So has privacy disappeared? Gartner thinks so.

“According to a recent blog from Gartner, social media could be the end of our privacy as we know it. This is very true, but let’s be honest; our privacy was endangered when social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook were launched over 5 years ago. Back in 2005 the social networking sites tapped into a hidden human desire to share close/personal information with friends or strangers.

“Now we’ve recently had the launch of Twitter and foursqaure, criminal gangs are beginning to target people who use these sites to piece together a detailed picture of someone’s route to work or even their work/life balance in order to ascertain when their houses will be lying empty. I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to social networking sites; however we must remember that when you register with a social networking site you are literally leaving your privacy at the door”. Richard Cookson – Analyst Relations, Metia

So what should corporates make of this new world? Perhaps individuals, particularly Gen Y are comfortable with the unwritten rules – ‘No fb photo parties’ – but are corporates? Is it acceptable for HR departments to look at a candidates Facebook pages, Linked In and Twitter tweets as part of the sifting and reference checking process? HR may say “Yes”, but isn’t that the same as turning up at a candidates house on a Saturday night and peering through their sitting room window or following them to the pub on Sunday lunchtime? Hmmm. Tricky.

Companies have lot of growing up as they start to understand this new world. And so do some of the people who are my ‘friends’ on Facebook judging by the photos of last weekend’s party.

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Ian Gotts is CEO and Chairman of Nimbus Partners, an established and rapidly growing global software company, headquartered in the UK. He is a very experienced senior executive and serial entrepreneur, with a career spanning 25 years. Ian has co-authored a number of books including “Common Approach, Uncommon Results”, published in English and Chinese and in its second edition, "Why Killer Products Don't Sell" and books covering Cloud computing from the perspective of both the prospective buyer, and the software vendor. Having begun his career in 1983 as an engineer for British Rail, Ian then spent 12 years at Accenture (nee Andersen Consulting) specialising in the project management of major business critical IT projects. During this time, he spent two years as an IT Director, seconded to the Department for Social Security (DSS), with a department of over 500 and a budget responsibility of 40 million pounds.