Social network Path and privacy

March 9, 2013 |

Social networking sites can be, and usually are, corrosive of an individuals privacy.  Not that users are not complicit in acting against their best interests; messing up their privacy settings (which are often confusing and contradictory) and just putting out into the social network sphere that which should reasonably be kept private. But social networks are the prime abusers of privacy and their use of information to data mine is an appalling abuse of its user’s rights.

In Path’s Dave Morin at SXSW: “‘We Wanted to Build the Apple of the Internet.” Vanity Fair, briefly, looks into a different approach taken by the Social Network Path.

It provides:

At South by Southwest in Austin, TX, former Facebook executive Dave Morin sat down with Vanity Fair Senior West Coast Editor Krista Smith to talk about his social network, Path, and what he thinks of privacy in the social media age.

“Over the last six months or so we’ve seen a really interesting meme on Path,” said Morin. “People will post things on Path and use the hashtag #pathonly to remind people that, This is something that I only want to be shared with you, that I only want to be shared on Path.”

Path, a family-oriented social network where users can only maintain 150 connections, uses privacy as a hallmark—in an era when Facebook regularly battles accusations that its policies regarding personal information are confusing, or even invasive. An explainer for non-users: Path is based on the idea that humans have limited numbers of workable interpersonal connections. The theory is, if you limit your relationships to only the meaningful ones, sharing personal information or imagery becomes simpler. The #pathonly trend, Morin says, is a vindication of that ideal.

“The way that we think about it is pretty simple,” explained Morin. “People love having a home. People love going to their house and sleeping in their bedroom and having a conversation around the dinner table. You don’t particularly think of that conversation as a private conversation, you just think of it as something that happened in your home.” The Path software, he said, aims to “represent the human experience a lot more deeply.”

Morin previously worked at Apple, for Steve Jobs, and Smith asked him what he thought happened to the tech community after the loss of the iconic Apple boss. “It’s been a really rough year for everyone involved,” Morin admitted. “We’re very inspired by Apple. [Path co-founder Dustin Mierau] and I, when we sat down to get the community going, we wanted to build the Apple of our generation, the Apple of the Internet.”

When Smith asked Morin about the political battles over privacy, Morin begged the question. “I think we need more words to describe privacy. People say the word ‘privacy’ and they mean a lot of different things. You can say ‘privacy’ in the context of security . . . Is my computer secure? Can people hack into it and get things off of it? You can also talk about social networking systems and the various pieces of that. Is my information in my control? Can I delete it? Do I understand how it all works?”

“I think that really the answer is that Silicon Valley and Washington have to engage in a much more sophisticated conversation,” he said. “‘Privacy’ isn’t a word that is doing us justice.”

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