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The future of online privacy? Most of us aren’t all that bothered

Meabh Quoirin, managing director of Future Foundation closed the annual Future Foundation conference with an in-depth look at where privacy and anonymity on the web are headed to in the next few years.

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New data presented at the conference suggests that only a vocal few percent of people are significantly worried about privacy. Indeed most are actually happy — or perhaps nonchalant — to what data companies and agencies want to have (or target them by).

Quoirin went on to talk about recent Pew data that shows how we’re hiding some aspects of ourselves from those closest to us, let alone people we don’t even know yet. Quoirin demonstrated that people hide for a wide variety of reasons (including personal sensitivity but also control of data in the future) and how they are actually doing it.

Finally, Quoirin articulately explained what this all means for brands and consumers. In essence, it continues to be a dance the pair play in order to get what the other needs or is offering… but the tune is changing. Quoirin has a cautionary note for brands as consumers mature in the social space — she warns of temporary affiliations and the desire to not be branded a fan for life. In essence, people will actually seek ways to avoid brand interaction or only interact in forums free from brand presences.

Quoirin left the crowd with an interesting takeaway that many brands are ever likely to consider — actively working within the anonymous networks. Granted, you have to give up some of the control other platforms afford but Quoirin described this as an “evolution” of consumer/brand interactions rather than a revolution or devolution. In essence, the relationship is maturing as engagement becomes perhaps more temporary but certainly more considered by consumers. As Quorin summed up; “why we’re hiding is the most important aspect of this key shift in consumer behaviour.”

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