How Much Private Information Do you Reveal?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Guy Pace

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I set up an account on Facebook recently just to see where things are with the social networking site since the last time I checked.

There have been some changes. The porn and sex come-ons no longer populate my “Wall” and there are more controls for who you allow to see what in your Facebook page.

Still Facebook is a privacy sink hole. It doesn’t really matter what you do with the privacy settings of your own account, short of blocking all access (and that is kinda contrary to the reason for using Facebook).

Facebook still allows you to release all personal and private information to games and other activities if you want to participate or just want to see what is offered.

And, then there are your friends.

Friends are a good thing. But when it comes to social networking, adding friends to your account just increases the channels through which your private or embarrassing information is leaked to a wider audience or the general public.

Friends can tag you in a photo, and that will go out to whoever that friend allows to see it. Others can further share that photo with their network of friends and so on.

Well, yes, that can be harmless. But, what if that photo or a comment is of some subject matter or activity that could get you fired at work? Ruin your professional reputation? Destroy your marriage? Or, ruin all your normal friendships?

If you don’t think any of that can happen, think again.

Savvy employers that have a vested interest in employees maintaining moral and ethical lifestyles often scan across social networks. It is an exercise in self preservation. And, it is perfectly legal so long as they do not cross certain lines. (Disclaimer here: I’m no lawyer. Please check with a lawyer for specific information).

So, yes, the new privacy settings and even third party tools make it easier to limit what others see on your social networking page. But, how careful are your friends or those folks you barely know who you just “friended?”

What kind of things have you put up on the site that could potentially cause problems if a friend decided to “tag” it and share it with a wider or completely open audience?

I’m thinking there will probably be a lot more lives ruined, professional reputations flushed, careers trashed and marriages broken before folks realize that there has to be a better model, a more solid foundation of trust, for social networking.

Yeah, i’m not on Facebook anymore. Again. It was an educational experience. But, I don’t ever plan to go back.

Cross-posted from Rapier57

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