Surveilance & Privacy in a Networked World

Sousveillance : What type of Surveillance is this?

Sousveillance original French [suvɛjɑ̃s]) as well as inverse surveillance are terms coined by Steve Mann to describe the recording of an activity from the perspective of a participant in the activity, typically by way of small portable or wearable recording devices that often stream continuous live video to the Internet.

Inverse surveillance is a proper subset of sousveillance with a particular emphasis on “watchful vigilance from underneath” and a form of surveillance inquiry or legal protection involving the recording, monitoring, study, or analysis of surveillance systems, proponents of surveillance, and possibly also recordings of authority figures and their actions. Inverse surveillance is typically an activity undertaken by those who are generally the subject of surveillance, and may thus be thought of as a form of ethnography or ethnomethodology study (i.e. an analysis of the surveilled from the perspective of a participant in a society under surveillance)

Read the article from wikipedia and follow some of the links at the bottom of the article. These links are are worth following.

Ask yourselves some questions:

  • Do you think about the identifiable trail that you leave whilst using networks?
  • Do you worry about being tracked by your online activity?
  • Do you worry about being tracked in the real world?
  • Has your picture been taken by a government body?
  • What information do you place online?

Panoptican :

The PANOPTICON was proposed as a model prison by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), a Utilitarian philosopher and theorist of British legal reform.

The Panopticon (“all-seeing”) functioned as a round-the-clock surveillance machine. Its design ensured that no prisoner could ever see the ‘inspector’ who conducted surveillance from the privileged central location within the radial configuration. The prisoner could never know when he was being surveilled — mental uncertainty that in itself would prove to be a crucial instrument of discipline.

The New Surveillance:

Freedom of Information Activism Online:

Surveilance Society Critique:

Facebook and Social Networking Software:

It’s worth how much?

• 15 reasons Facebook may be worth $15 billion BBC article

• There’s less to Facebook and other social networks than meets the eye Economist article

• Social graph, Social network Wikipedia (usual disclaimer)

• On valuation, bidding war Microsoft, Google, NewsCorp: Friend accepted Economist article

The (future) value is in advertising

‘Facebook is expected this year to bring in just $150m of revenues through adverts and extras – about $3 per user per year, or less than 3 pence per week.For all the big “social networking” names – MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, LinkedIn – the only way to make money is through advertising….the future of making money from social networks is reckoned to lie in having the best advertising network (or platform): being able to thrust carefully targeted pieces of text, pictures or even video in front of people’s eyes.’Guardian article

Facebook announcements

‘Facebook is announcing three things: Social Ads (ads targeted based on member profile data and spread virally), Beacon (a way for Facebook members to declare themselves fans of a brand on other sites and send those endorsements to their feeds), and Insight (marketing data that goes deep into social demographics and pyschographics which Facebook will provide to advertisers in an aggregated, anonymous way). These three things together make up Facebook Ads.’GuardianCompany linksAnnouncementA video of Facebook’s chief revenue officer Owen Van Natta’s presentation at a U. K. marketing conference


• Privacy ‘Is Facebook Beacon a privacy nightmare?’ Om Malik

• Spam Facebook fatigue

• ‘Identity is performed and crafted in Facebook’ Boundaries, identity

• Tapping at the window Peeping

Questions to ask yourselves:

So how do you feel about social advertising and use of data which identifies you?

• Does this change matter?

• Will people react by moving to other social networks?

• Is the effort (opportunity cost) of moving to another network too great? Have Facebook achieved software lock-in?


• Plugins for adding pictures and so on have been part of the success of facebook. Tell us about the plugins you find useful.

• Open standards, Google Open Social

Some alternatives

Your Responses could be…..

Write a blog entry commenting on one of the following:

• ‘Unlike other networks, social networks lose value once they go beyond a certain size.’ Discuss with reference to Facebook.

• Beacon and social advertising. Smart move, or not?

• Review a Facebook plugin. What makes a successful plugin for social networking?

More resources:Useful Visual tracking history of Social Networks

SNS timeline

A good overview of the field, Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship, by Danah Boyd and Nicole Ellison in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.

A very critical piece by Tom Hodgkinson. Who owns Facebook? What are their political beliefs? Have you read the Facebook privacy policy? With friends like these …

All the start ups covered. Some to IPO, some to the deadpool Techcrunch

All the Social Networking News at


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