Nov 212011
 November 21, 2011  Posted by  Online

Ethan Forrest writes:

We’re thrilled to announce the release of Privicons for Google Chrome, a tool for helping users deal with email carelessness: innocent misunderstandings and omissions about email privacy, like unwanted forwards or reply-alls, that embarrass the person whose email is passed along without permission.


… Privicons relies on norms-based social signals to influence users’ choices about privacy. To convey these signals, Privicons uses a vocabulary of icons that clearly communicate email senders’ privacy expectations. With the new Privicons plugin for Chrome, Gmail users can select from a list of these icons and attach them to their emails, unobtrusively but noticeably. (A Firefox plugin is next.) When recipients see these icons, we expect that many of them, motivated by neighborliness and their understanding of social norms, will comply with their peers’ wishes and expectations.

Read more on CIS.

While Ethan may be thrilled, not everyone is. Lauren Weinstein writes:

I am basically not impressed by such schemes. My suspicion is that such “signals” will be overused by senders (often for bad reasons) and largely ignored by recipients (often for good reasons). I’ll elaborate on this later as appropriate.

What follows is a very interesting discussion among Lauren, Ethan, Ryan Calo, and others on the potential usefulness – or uselessness, depending on your view – of the icons.

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