Living in a time where markets are conversations and wikinomics is the driving force for innovation there seems to be a contradiction between a Bill of Rights and the social web.
The new world is described by Tapscott and Williams in their book Wikinomics as “what happens when masses of people and firms collaborate openly to drive innovation and growth in their industries” (p. 11). Collaborating is not just about talking about things but about “peer production that will harness human skill, ingenuity, and intelligence” (p. 18). The principles are openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally. The traditional business model is turned up side down – a thing that Google has also proven – by opening the innovation processes to external experts or users. Companies like Linux, IBM, Lego, Procter and Gamble and others have invited users to take part in their innovation doing that the companies have to share some of their business secrets (open source).
I guess that is what I do on an individual level using LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google. I share a lot of private information but I trust these companies not to do evil things but to make life easier for me. As Rosie the Third has pointed out I believe individuals benefit from sharing personal information on the social web. Do I and the rest of the users of the social web need legal protection from these companies as I as a citizen get protection of the government in a bill of rights like a constitution? I do not think so. Social media like Facebook and MySpace are regulated by the trust the users donate to them. If they break the trust of the users they will lose their business. On the other hand, the debate about privacy and Google and Joseph Smarr’s “Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web” show that users are concerned. The users are increasingly asking companies to focus on who own personal information, how the personal information is shared, and how persistent access to personal information to trusted external sites.
The companies who are harnessing “procumers” communities have learned the hard way that there are new rules of engagement (Trapschott and Williams, 2006:147). These new rules are not written in a bill of rights, but they are experiences that companies entering the new business world can use as best practice.
The Bill of Rights for the Users of the Social Web is a blog and part of an ongoing conversation and I think that is the right place to address the challenges and the privacy of the users of the social web. The conversations are the bill of rights for the users of social web because they include rights or best practices that are important and essential to the users.