EU election infographics and social media privacy

The European Union elections are underway this weekend, finishing on Sunday. In advance of the elections, BBC released a series of infographics on relevant issues. The disparity between youth unemployment figures and general unemployment is striking. It’s received a lot of attention in the media over the pat few years, but the visual really drives the point home. This 2013 story from the New York Times gives a human face to the frustration of youth unemployment. 

Most interesting to me was the graphic on energy consumption. I am always curious which countries rely most heavily on combustible fuel sources versus nuclear or renewable. I can’t claim any expertise, but I expect a rise in the latter two over the next 20 years. What I wonder is whether more of that growth will come in countries which already embrace nuclear and renewable sources, like France, Sweden and Finland, or whether the growth will come from countries who rely most heavily on coal, oil and gas. Note: that graphic uses 2011 data. 

Also on the BBC, I came across a cool article about the rise of privacy as a desirable characteristic of social media. Social media is pervasive, and removing yourself from it can limit social opportunities or even career opportunities. At the same time, not everyone necessarily wants to share their news or their personal updates with the entirety of their online networks – with online etiquette often making it difficult to parse and limit who becomes a member of those networks. Some companies are now trading in this, using privacy as the selling point for their social media tools. Snapchat is the first that comes to mind, using impermanence to moderate publicity, but Whisper and Secret, mentioned in the article, traffic exclusively in anonymity.

The end of the article questions the viability of profit in the new applications, which ricochets into a secondary question for me: how far will we go with the commodification of privacy? With Google, Facebook, Youtube and other major “free” online services, we already sell personal information in exchange for a useful or fun online tool. Can you see your future self “buying” privacy in apps, or in “premium memberships” with the previously mentioned companies?

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