This is entirely speculative post, as I don’t have access to US Government databases, yet the concept worth thinking about. I certainly don’t know the answer, and posed the question to my twitter community with a variety of responses, there wasn’t a clear agreeing side.
The US Government has a wealth of demographic, workplace, educational, and financial information about it’s citizens, I’m sure there are other databases collecting information. Yet when I think about the information being created by ourselves on the social database (myspace, facebook, blogs) only a portion of the above data may be found, but an entirely different set of information can be found.
Our research indicates that a majority of teens in North America are using social networks, in fact more than 2/3rds are active monthly users, and about 1/5th are daily users. We’re all aware of the stories of how teens are using these tools to communicate as their primary forms above phone, and even email.
Types of information commonly found in the Social Database of Gen Y:
When I take a look at a few of my younger friends I see they’ve uploaded (willingly) information about their: age, sexual preference, political stance, work, school, email address, IM clients, phone numbers
They also share some of of their psyhographics: what they like, what motivates or saddens them, hobbies, music. With some time, you could eventually interept their profile to find some inner drivers and motivations. Status messages can really be telling, it’s obvious to me when someone is going through relationship pains.
While not as complete as formal research, they also share their technographics (how they use technology) by looking at their activity, mini-news feed, see what type of applications they’ve downloaded and used. Beyond web use, you may see elements of consumption of cell phone, tv, and other technolgies present.
Perhaps most importantly, they share their network information, you can see who has become their friends, what they think of each other (top friend apps) and eventually find nodes, influencers, and sneezers.
Although much of this profile information is hidden, privacy continues to be a top concern, yet many of those afflicted with information sharing in a way they weren’t expecting have to always remember they were the ones who put that information out there in the first place. Even if someone decides to delete a profile, they comments, applications on third party sites, will leave a residual ghost that may be impossible to erase.
Generation Y (and everyone else) should have a mental filter in their mind before publishing anything on the web. One should assume that this information (or pics) should be considered public, seen by those you don’t want to see, and here forever. While this may not always be the case, it’s a good filter to have.