Privacy and Media Literacy

An article in the WSJ caught my eye the other day: Concern about Social-Networking Privacy Jumps, by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries. Per the article:

About 36% of American adults said they were “very concerned” about their privacy on social-networking sites in 2010, compared with 30% who felt that way last year. The shift was particularly noticeable among people over age 44; 50% of people age 54 to 64 described themselves as “very concerned,” compared with 32% who said that in 2009.

What got me about this article is it seems to mark an interesting shift, a shift I've been wondering about. Particularly as a company like Facebook, that's so contentious in its privacy policies, begins to hit the mainstream, you have to wonder whether what were previously niche concerns begin to hit the mainstream as well.

Specifically, I am reminded of being asked to take a "media literacy" class in high school, where they had us examining things like the ways in which advertising began to manipulate us, the fact that the Pepsi can you saw in the latest Blockbuster movie was probably paid for, and the way media companies are conglomerates, owning much of the country's media properties in large chunks.

I think about the shift that must have taken to get Americans aware of this, and wonder at what point Americans begin to worry about these sorts of concerns in the online space. What does the media literacy class look like 2, 5 or 10 years from now? How does that shift, and the accompanying story-telling, take place? What are the kinds of events that cause it to precipitate?

Certainly the shift has not yet taken place, despite the fact that Google and others have been relying on these models for a while. So I cannot say that it will or won't take place, but it's certainly an interesting future to imagine, especially for all the tiny startups that plan on capitalizing on this misunderstanding in the popular conception of internet use.