In an increasingly inter-connected and digital society, challenges to privacy and reputation are frequent. Even before social media put everyone at constant pressure to “overshare,” when people’s very personal details were not always a quick Google search away, privacy was still under threat. A person’s visibility and public representations are often judged and demanded for credibility and honesty evaluations performed by employers, potential partners, members of the community, and even complete strangers. Giving up privacy in favor of radical openness may be the way some reality stars have attained their celebrity, but for many people this feels invasive and like a violation of security.
In a broader sense, people’s individual privacy settings in terms of what they wish to share or disclose, how, and to whom, have a direct bearing on reputation. Cultural practices around privacy and information sharing can give rise to serious reputational risk that impacts individuals and communities and frays the social fabric in which transparency is desirable or even possible. These norms and ethical expectations are intensified in the digital age, where an individual’s personal information can never truly be deleted or taken back once it is made public.