Let’s be honest. For most of us, Facebook is the only way we connect and interact with certain people. Perhaps they are friends from high school, distant relatives, or (God forbid) exes. We may even have “friends” who we only met once, maybe at a party or through a mutual friend, but whom we have not seen since. It really is great to have a network on which to have some sort of interaction with these people, even if we don’t know them all that well. Personally, I hate deleting people off Facebook. I feel as if I’m losing a connection, and I always worry that once I delete them, I’ll soon randomly run into them and have to explain why I made the decision to delete them. Crazy, right? Here’s the thing, though; my personal information, my thoughts, my life (the parts that I choose to make public) is on this site. I don’t want basic strangers having access to that.
This makes me stop and ponder my decision to actually post personal information on a social networking site. The information I post online isn’t usually anything that a person couldn’t access through public records: place of birth, current city, date of birth. So why don’t I feel comfortable with staying connected to these deleted people? I guess it’s because I don’t want others to have such easy access to me, to my life. And yet, I still keep this information up. I still post personal feelings, thoughts, my everyday life for everyone to see. This begs the question: why do we feel the need to post such personal things on a public forum? Even with privacy settings, there’s no guarantee that someone, whom we’ve given access to our profiles, won’t abuse this access and exploit our information. Seriously, why do we post private information on a public site? I don’t understand this phenomenon, and yet I participate.
Naomi Troni explores this topic in her article “Social Media Privacy: A Contradiction in Terms?” http://www.forbes.com/sites/onmarketing/2012/04/24/social-media-privacy-a-contradiction-in-terms/
She explains that we as a society have become so used to doling out pieces of information that we rarely give a second thought to providing it online for companies when purchasing a product or service, or subscribing for membership to a website. It’s only when our information is exploited and our privacy violated that we become wary of our lax privacy issues. Reputation.com discusses the top 5 social media privacy concerns of 2012. http://www.reputation.com/reputationwatch/articles/top-five-social-media-privacy-concerns-2012 It’s almost terrifying to think about how much information we’ve already posted online and who has access to it. Is there any other way to be more protective of this information?
Maybe we’ll never be able to go back to having completely private lives, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be more diligent with protecting our information. Personally, I’m now more aware of what I post online and what I allow to be seen by the public. My privacy is more important to me than giving a website permission to access my account. So far, I haven’t had really any privacy issues, but I know this is not the case with everyone. Have you ever had a problem with a social network privacy policies/settings?