A tangled web

E-reading, digital downloads and cloud-based distribution of e-content are all growing. So, too, is the call for greater clarity about the privacy of data related to what we’re reading, and how.

Organizations like the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) address privacy as a wheelhouse issue, and they’ve been tracking services like Google Books, Kindle, Nook and Sony Reader to better understand their privacy profiles. The differences are not small.

More recently, changes in Facebook’s terms of service have made even some loyalists wonder out loud about the future of privacy in the world wide web. A peek under the hood of Facebook’s privacy options tells that story too well.

So when Ad Age recently reported that magazines are looking at options to sell content within Facebook’s news feed, I started to think about privacy. Are publishers really ready to handle the myriad of options, preferences and objections associated with viewing and monetizing content at a granular level?

This could be a case of unintended consequences. Much as digital readers expose a multitude of shortcuts that rendering to print often masks, social media sites may be the canary in the coal mine at the intersection of content, monetization and privacy.

This doesn’t make the Facebook effort wrong, but the thing that makes social-media content “monetizable” – the ability to link interest and action – opens a window on a discussion most publishers have yet to think about having.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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