Privacy – Fact or Fiction?
How do you manage your information on Facebook?
When Facebook launched back in 2004 it was ‘the’ channel to reconnect with friends, peers and former colleagues, making it a personal and professional relationship building tool. Now, there seems to be an increasingly distinctive split between personal and professional, with LinkedIn overtaking taking Facebook as the ‘top professional networking site’; and ‘Twitter’ being a more widely used social network for information sharing.
So what has changed? Privacy and data protection on social media was in its early stages and was perhaps a less talked about subject. Now, with employers and recruiters using social media to dig deeper into the profiles of professional candidates’, privacy and online reputation has become critical. With LinkedIn designed to accommodate information that is professional and Twitter limiting sharing to 140 characters there is far less scope for errors in information sharing.
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On Twitter, privacy is at its simplest because it’s pretty much all or nothing. If you protect your tweets only your followers can see what you share. In that instance all you’ve really got to think about is who you allow to follow you and you know who your audience is. If you choose not to, you know everything is public and then what you’ve got to think about is what you say and share in terms of photos and links.
With LinkedIn you have different levels of privacy, but again because of the nature of the site and the design itself there is no easy way to share photos, conversations with ‘friends’ and other pieces of information that you’d really want friends to see and no one else.
But Facebook, with its design that makes it possible to share the most intimate details of your life such as your mood, relationship status, what you are listening to, eating and more. In its attempt to offer more privacy options Facebook has in a way made it far more complex to manage privacy settings for the less proficient user, increasing the margin for error. As a social media geek I often end up in conversations about privacy with many people not knowing how they can manage their privacy settings.
Earlier this year on what many in the United States celebrated as Data Privacy Day Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer said “I'm pleased that Data Privacy Day gives me another opportunity to talk about these important issues and help shine a spotlight on them.” That said, there was no intimation or mention of plans to conduct a psychological experiment on potentially every user regardless of privacy settings. Which then makes you think, if behavioural patterns were monitored based on the nature of updates, many of which may have been set to friend only, was there a pair of eyes peering over other pieces of information that weren’t public? Do we really have 100% privacy? Previously it was possible to make your profile un searchable so you couldn’t be looked up by name if you opted out....
But with that no longer being an option and profile and cover images exempt from ‘privacy’, as well as photos that predate the ‘varying levels of privacy’ options, there’s a lot more that’s public on your Facebook profile than you probably realise.
So my first piece of advice would be to review your privacy settings, timeline and photos.
Some have chosen to simply opt out to save themselves the hassle of it all, but I am on the fence about this. I think if information is shared selectively, so you’re targeting the right audience with the right pieces of information, it has its benefits. Businesses use Facebook as a marketing tool but it’s also a marketing tool for own personal brand. Are you jumping ship or staying on board with the 1 billion odd users worldwide?
- Aminah Khan, Social Media Editor at GAAPweb.com
Here are some reads to give you a bit more food for thought