Proper Facebook Etiquette

#2124 risks are diversifying

Friday 18th July, 2014

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Dear Dr Maz,

Don’t you think that online risks have stopped being a narrow area of concern and are broader than before?… It’s not just porn and cats, but it is also bad attitudes; flakey interactions and commitment;  unflattering expose’; too much celebrity ‘culture’; and additional pay-for-services that muddy good taste. Most importantly, new evidence (see Tony Anscombe from Anti-Virus Guard (AVG) writing on his blog last week) demonstrates that  risks  are diversifying. Especially with the content that we create ourselves. I am right to be concerned aren’t I?

Friendly Professor from Aus. 

I am touched you even read here. Ahem, and now I shall answer with sense, especially given your rather informed opening to the discussion.

You write as though you have read and are familiar with the LSEs online media project. Prof, because I know you, and you know my work, then we both know that my take requires our stepping across the online/offline threshold and understanding risk from society first (what does it mean to be in risk; how does this feel; what can/should be done to protect others/ourselves etc.), and then applying this into different situations whether these are digital or not.

In your words you cover a lot; from cats, to porn and all of the multifaceted tropes of intrigue and diffusion inbetween. For some these are ALL risks. Research that I have conducted with a colleague from University of York examines precisely the ‘setting’ of Disconnection that in some quarters is a ‘risky’ state in itself (ie. you cannot connect); and for others it is risky to be connected (ie. demands on time, intrusion into privacy, security vulnerabilities and so on and so forth).

Where does this leave us? Often with multiple devices On all the time. And subtle (but not too complex) variations in what we experience as risk.  However, there are areas where you and I, and mutual friends at the LSE and beyond would agree that certain content (e.g. porn) is more likely to be risky – dealing with salacious content, exposing audience to indecent images, providing revenue through illegitimate means, and also exploiting user/’performer’ in different ways.

So do I consider ‘risk’ to be broader than before? Actually no, but I do consider the transference and visibility to be swifter than before. And this carries its own risk.

I think a more interesting question is what we would consider ‘safe’ to be. 

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