Robert Scoble thinks privacy advocates have "overstepped their bounds", has useful advice for victims of violent stalkers, and is jealous of your threesomes

scobleRobert Scoble is settling nicely into his new role as a vigorous critic of your privacy. That said, he's unhappy I quoted his remarks about being "so tired of privacy advocates", and is doing that thing where you find a nasty anonymous comment and represent it as the sum of criticism to engender sympathy. Indeed, it is now the case that privacy advocates are not merely tiresome, but have "overstepped their bounds"!

Today's batch of evangelism ranges from increasingly voluminous praise of advertising ("THEY LOVE ADS"), asserting that he is not advertising anything (factcheck: Scoble "makes media about world changing startups" at RackSpace), to expressing jealousy at other people's threesomes and making clear that anyone with a violent stalker can take care of it simply by blocking them on Facebook, which "really does work."

But, let the man speak for himself!

First, a concession: it's OK if we have private passwords:

I'm not wholly opposed to privacy, either. I don't post my passwords for all of you to see, for instance. It's just that by being anti everything the privacy advocates have overstepped their bounds and made a whole raft of people afraid of everything.

People don't turn on Facebook privacy controls because they don't want them:

I ask every audience whether or not they use a credit card. Most don't have a single person who raises their hands. Most of us are gonna use Facebook. Most of us will not turn on privacy controls. Most of us are gonna do that because there is deep utility here. Same as driving a car. Those darned things KILL 33,000 people a year yet we still drive. Why? The risks are offset by utility. Same in the contextual age. ... How else do I know that most people don't care that much about the kind of deep privacy most advocates are yelling for? They use credit cards.

No-one really cares about government surveillance, just like gun control:

Look at the UK. There's a camera on every piece of public street now. No one really cares. In SF they are taking photos of our license plates as we cross the Golden Gate bridge. Very few care. ... Most of us don't care about this stuff (or about car safety or about gun control or lack thereof). If we did we'd already be protesting. Instead most people just want better cat photos on their feeds. Seriously, I'm doing research on that.

The Secret App sucks because it is too private and made him jealous.

Personally, where there's an expectation of privacy (like on Secret) the content absolutely sucks for the most part. Unless you like hearing some of your friends just had a threesome. Me? Just made me jealous and didn't add anything to my life. I'd rather be here where smart people are hanging out all day long to compare notes on tech.

The EFF's Jillian York needs to understand that getting rid of stalkers is much easier than women realize:

If you have a violent stalker in your life first thing you should do is unfriend them and block them from watching you on Facebook. It really does work Jillian.

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Silly stalker victims, if only they knew about blocking. Sigh.

Lastly, "hits".

Plus, being either for or against privacy makes for lots of hits. Even this post is getting lots of hits. Unlike Boing Boing I don't make money off of ads, so I don't care about the hits.

The issue of whether Robert Scoble makes money "off of ads" is best left between Robert Scoble and his God, but we're proud of our advertising (most of it, anyway!) and proud of our support for your right to understand it and block it if you choose to.

But one claim there needs debunking: traffic is generated in far greater measure by kitten GIFs and listicles than by talking about Robert Scoble:

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Cheer up, man. Our ads get more clicks than items about you! Our readers are in a win-win situation!

Notable Replies

  1. Snap!

    I am so proud myself for not knowing who or what a "Robert Scoble" is.

  2. Shuck says:

    I guess when you're a profession "technology evangelist," you're so busy trying to convince everyone that the technology is AWESOME! THE BEST THING EVER! and will IMPROVE YOUR LIFE! that you never give a moment's thought to what the actual repercussions of the technology might be, to the point where you completely ignore everything that doesn't fit that utopian narrative. It's disturbing to think how much power guys like him have in Silicon Valley - ironically it's the fast-track to dystopia.

    Also, and I'm repeating myself: Christ, what an asshole.

  3. Reminds me of an Ann Coulter. The guy is a troll and his only power is the attention he is (unfortunately) receiving for acting like this.

  4. The glaring, crippling problem undermining the "utility outweighs risk" argument is that, as countless papers, articles and books have shown, HUMANS ARE TOTALLY INCOMPETENT AT ASSESSING RISK.

  5. If this...precocious child of the technological age... thinks that blocking an account on a service that accepts signups from basically anything that walks through the door is going to stop a mildly inquisitive middle schooler, much less an actual stalker... I just don't even.

    Either he actually believes in the 'real names policy' utopia (in which case he needs a psych referral, probably to a geologist), or he has somehow been on the internet for years without noticing that blacklisting has failed profoundly for spam, failed profoundly for antivirus, failed profoundly for 'content filtering'(as we call censorship here in the free world), and that 'deny' entries in ACLs barely work (thanks to illicit account sharing) in environments where IT won't issue you credentials without documentation and sign-off from HR and AUP violations can actually get you fired.

    Condescendingly ignoring the use-cases of people whose situations are trickier than yours is certainly a silicon valley tradition (at least since the pox of 'social' blew in); but this particular one is a dire special case of something that has actually dogged techies for years, and 'block' has never worked. This is well known. It's pretty much #1 and #2 of "The Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security"

    Guy can't even mansplain competently...

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