Social networks have become a central part of people’s lives, increasingly crucial for everyday life and politics, socializing and organizing. Parents and their children connect with each other via Facebook. People find jobs via LinkedIn, watch videos on YouTube, and take to the streets and protest via Twitter.
But there are huge threats to the future of social networks. Big corporations and governments are worried about the empowering possibilities of social networks, so are trying to put the genie back in the bottle. Privacy and anonymity are disappearing, putting jobs and in some cases lives at risk. Restrictive laws and policies are cracking down on the ways people can use social networks.
The book will show the richness, diversity, and power of the social network experience through storytelling. Using stories that make people say ‘oh my god, I’ve done that,’ we’ll explore friendship, identity, privacy, free speech, and the ways people use social networks to change their lives and society. Along the way, we’ll also empower readers by offering tips and tactics — steps they can take to protect their own privacy and how to approach making new friends online.
We’ll end by charting paths to the future. Some are gloomy: governments threatened by the internet’s potential for change clamping down, ongoing losses of privacy, the disappearance of pseudonymity. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here as elsewhere in the book, most of our stories are optimistic.
So the futures we’ll explore also imagine people working together on social networks to realize the potential of the internet. We’ll look at the push for a social network users bill of rights, and the creation of new open source projects and communities like Dreamwidth and Diaspora, based on a commitment to social justice and respect for users.
Tales from the Net: Friendship, Identity, Privacy and the Future of Social Networks is reporting from the front lines of the battle for the future of the internet — and a call to action for the readers of the book to join us in the fight.
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