Time and time again we all hear about the scare stories that infest the media, where user information has either been gathered or shared without the owners consent or just by a lack of understanding a few privacy settings. This certainly hasn’t prevented social networking sites such as Facebook enjoying a very succesful 500 million users worldwide with no end currently in sight.
This article isn’t an attack on Facebook or any other online entity that gathers our personal and social information, actually it is a bit of a wake up call to those that believe that by carefully selecting our privacy settings somehow solves all our concerns. There is a distinct impression given by the media that our data can be safe if only those evil corporations and web programmers respect our privacy. Actually no matter what measures are put into place – your information, social connections and photographs are all at risk of being shared with people you would sooner not be privy to such content.
As a Facebook user, we have been trained to carefully consider ‘who’ has access to our life stories and innermost thoughts, which many individuals lavish social networking websites with in great abundance. I personally use Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends, see how they are doing and promote my website offerings – however others concentrate on what they had for breakfast, the most devastating of news and even personal attacks. Our lives are exposed yet we foolishly believe by locking everything down so only our friends can view it is missing a very simple point.
Your data, indeed your life is not private. As soon as you post something on Facebook, you are revealing a truth about yourself. You may believe that ‘only’ your closest of friends, a small group of individuals you trust can read this latest revelation, however it only takes one to copy and then paste this information elsewhere for all to see. You see the real threat is actually within your own real-life social network and not the online medium that the media focuses on so hard. Yes there are silly lapses and often poor judgements by social networking websites which certainly don’t help, however there is absolutely no way to protect yourself against one of your ‘so called’ friends taking a snapshot of your life and sharing it outside of your friendly inner sanctum.
Text can be copied, images can be downloaded and who you add or even don’t add can be just as much a reflection of yourself to others than you may dare to admit. With only a few keystrokes or mouse clicks, your privacy is lost for all the world to see. A rather heated comment can soon reach the person in question and through friends of friends before you know it, jobs can be lost, family members can be deeply offended and the people you care about the most could leave you forever.
Your new rule of thumb should be this… Posting ‘anything’ on Facebook or indeed elsewhere on the web – that same information is open to the possibility of reaching people you would rather it not and the results may be catastrophic!
Enjoy social networking, just be a little wiser to it is all I ask :)