The New York Times reports on the tracking of individuals’ Internet browsing habits:
Still a new generation of Web sites like Dscover.me, Sitesimon.com and Voyurl.com is banking on our willingness to take that next step toward taking our lives public: namely, by automatically tracking personal browsing histories for public viewing. […]
But are these sites another crack in the eroding wall between public and private life? Perhaps. The better question: Do we actually care if they are? […]
Controversy is, of course, part of the appeal. Sharing feels a little risky, and entire Nevada cities are built atop the inescapable truth that risk can be fun. On the consumer end, it’s also fun to spy and is a great way to find content and see what’s trending.
Yet it’s hard to imagine anyone choosing to share one’s entire browsing history. There are the obvious “me time” indulgences that want hiding. But what about researching an embarrassing ailment? What about online dating, or banking?
At all of these tracking sites, developers say they take privacy very seriously; their success will ultimately be predicated on trust. Therefore, they have created numerous safeguards. None of them share links to secure sites, for example; tracking software can be turned off at will. […]
All that sharing can open up new and tricky fields of interplay in relationships. Mina Tsay, a communications professor at Boston University who studies the psychological and social effects of media, said that in her studies of Facebook she found that frequent users saw the world as significantly more public than less-frequent users did — a source of misunderstanding familiar to many social media users.