I know voting records are public. Notwithstanding, I was a little annoyed to learn that some of my seemingly apolitical Facebook and Twitter friends were Republican or voted Republican in 2008 when crazy Palin was running. How did I know that? I went to Votizen.com. I’ve been a member for a while and I do like the site, but I wasn’t ready to see some people, most of whom I don’t really know that well, outed as Republicans. Being a Republican today isn’t like being a Republican back in 1986, if you know what I mean. In today’s political climate, I would have preferred not to know that about those people.
After getting annoyed for a day, I started to wonder: do these people even know that their political affiliation and voting records are now readily available for viewing by their Facebook and Twitter (and now LinkedIn) friends? Would they be OK with that? So I asked one of them. He flipped out. His response was, “dude, this is personal. How can they do this? I never signed up for an account there.” He felt, well, outed.
Here’s the thing: we like to think that our political affiliation and voting records are personal and most of us avoid the topic all together at work, family gatherings, parties, …etc. But in reality, all of that stuff is public data. The folks at Votizen collected it, catalogued it, digitized it, standardized it and turned it into a product. I’m not really sure any of us can do anything about it.
Here’s a snapshot of what I saw on Votizen. I blurred the names and photos of those individuals out of respect. I did the same thing with my Democrat friends.
Voting records might be public, but let’s give the choice back to individuals to determine with whom to share that public knowledge. If not out of respect, at least out of courtesy.
All I know is: thank God I didn’t connect my LinkedIn account with Votizen!