My Thoughts on Privacy in Social Media

To quote Peter Griffin of Family Guy, “You know what really grinds my gears?” Well, what grinds my gears is when people complain about privacy and how Facebook is not doing enough to protect their information and pictures. Several months ago, there was a firestorm of privacy concerns when Facebook rolled out the Social Graph. And now, with the release of Facebook Places, it appears yet another privacy debate is already starting.

My opinion on this is very simple: if you don’t want people to find out something about you or see embarrassing photos of you, then DO NOT post them on the Internet! PERIOD!

It is not Facebook or Twitter’s responsibility to control how you present yourself online or what info about you other people see, it is your responsibility. Facebook has privacy settings for a reason, and it’s up to you to set them up properly. You can pretty much control who sees what on your Facebook page. Now I do agree that sometimes when they release a new feature (such as Graph or Places), it’s a little annoying when they turn them on by default. But since that is what they do from time to time, it’s up to you to keep track of your own privacy settings and turn off what you don’t want to use. If you don’t like this, or if you think the privacy settings are too complicated (I personally think they are pretty simple) then don’t use Facebook. You can also set your Twitter stream to private, allowing only people who you approve to follow you.

But even with these privacy settings in place, there is still a chance that some little bit of info, or an embarrassing photo my end up being seen by someone you really didn’t want to see it. But ultimately you still get to control what information, links, and photos you post. So if you are really concerned about something being seen or heard, then don’t post it at all. Problem solved.

In addition to this blog, I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Goggle Buzz. I never post any sensitive information on any of these sites. I don’t care if my Facebook settings are set to private or if only my “friends” can see it, I don’t post my address, or phone number. I’ve even removed my current city. I post photos on Picasa. Anyone can see them, so I only post photos that I don’t mind people seeing. Anyone in the world can see my Twitter feed. So I take care to only post information (I mostly post links to stuff I like) that won’t get me in trouble or that I don’t care if some random person reads. I don’t use Foursquare (or the new Facebook Places) or any of the other location services because I’d rather not broadcast to the world exactly where I am every minute of the day. However, there are people who do use these services, and who do post their phone number online and who do post silly pictures of themselves. That’s okay. But if you do, then you can’t turn around and complain if someone who you didn’t intend sees this information and or uses it against you.

So that’s my rant. I’m sorry if it seems harsh, but I strongly believe that YOU are responsible for presenting yourself properly on the internet. It’s not Facebook or Twitter’s job to do it for you. And if you can’t figure out the privacy controls, there is a lot of information available online that can help you, or get some help from someone who does understand them, or just don’t use these services.

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I’m a husband, web programmer, and big time Star Wars fan. I’m addicted to social media and I enjoy reading sci-fi, watching action movies, listening to country music, and playing the occasional video game.

Posted in Internet
2 comments on “My Thoughts on Privacy in Social Media
  1. John says:

    Well said sir!

  2. Dan O says:

    Hey Chris you might find this article interesting http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/24/facebook-follow/ . It actually makes a lot of sense to do it this way. Make users happy while still offering public accessible info that you’ve deemed ok for everyone to see. I’ve been doing something similar to this using Facebook’s groups feature…but like the article mentions, it becomes a pain fast.

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