In 1789, Thomas Jefferson wrote to his friend David Humphreys, “The rights of thinking, and publishing our thoughts by speaking or writing: the right of free commerce: the right of personal freedom.”
He wrote this after he was done contemplating his Uncle Field’s take on the Storming of the Bastille, which he posted about—at length—in a Facebook status earlier that day. Jefferson went on to block Uncle Field from Facebook after an ugly fight broke out in the comment section over the macaroni machine brought back to the U.S. by Jefferson after a trip to Europe, the first of its kind. “Know it all, with your new-fangled Italian macaroni maker…I’ll stick to my beer and gruel, thank you!”
That was then…sort of. This is now, and with Facebook ever more powerful, society has reached a crossroads where our personal information and our right of personal freedom, as Jefferson spoke of, may be compromised. As Zuckerberg last month told a Congressional committee delving into improper handling of personal user data and information that may have tampered with the 2016 presidential elections, “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake.”
But is that enough? Can a closer look at terms and conditions of our Facebook use protect us? These are the questions The Rosenbach will address this Thursday during their Flash Focus mini-series, “Living in the Age of Facebook: Privacy Rights.”
The evening will host a three-member panel including, Aaron Roth, associate professor of Computer and Information Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania; Jackie Anderson, social media analyst at Quaker City Mercantile; and Lauren Steinfeld, chief privacy officer for Penn Medicine, where she oversees the HIPAA compliance program and other privacy initiatives for Penn’s four hospitals. It will be moderated by The Citizen’s own Larry Platt.
“Hopefully this panel will really get into not just the what’s happening and what’s legal,” says Ed Pettit, manager of public programs. “But also, the broader range of issues: Is it right? Should we be doing this kind of thing? How does it change society and the way we operate in the world?”
This free event will also have on display the letter by Thomas Jefferson in which he reflects on the personal freedoms that will be included in the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, it does not include his grievances toward his Uncle Field’s rantings on Facebook.
In Conversation with the Rosenbach: Flash Focus on Privacy and the Internet, Thursday, May 17, 6 pm-7:30 pm, Free, The Rosenbach, 2008-2010 Delancey Pl. Register herePhoto via The Rosenbach