Facebook Privacy Again?

May 11, 2010

First of all, if you joined Facebook, you probably had a built-in need to tell the world about yourself. I know I did, but hey, I’m a blogger. I signed on soon after Facebook allowed it, because I had been on MySpace and hated it, and Twitter was kind of weird back then.

Concerns have been raised this week about Facebook’s new rules, and our lack of privacy under those rules. These flare up every few months, and I watch, and I listen, and for about a moment or so I think “maybe I should just delete my account.” But then I weigh pros against cons, and I stay. This is for many reasons, which is why I am about to make a list:

  • Change your mindset about social media. Stop making it about what you can learn about other people, and make it about what people can learn about you. That’s the key.
  • If you publish it online, understand that it is forever, privacy controls notwithstanding. Nothing online goes away. It can’t.
  • Every company operating online is doing so for one of two reasons: to sell you an actual product, or to access your personal information in order to target advertising. The second one outstrips the first by a hard mile.
  • If you know this, you can control your information. Do your homework. Read the fine print. And then sit back and say “Uh, so what? Show me iPad ads all you want.”
  • Don’t post anything, photos included, that you wouldn’t want people to see. For instance, I deal daily with a chronic and potentially publicly embarrassing health issue that I have never once mentioned on Facebook, nor here. No, not gas.

I guess I’m just tired of people complaining about social media privacy issues when, really, they’re only taking part because they want to. Nobody’s forcing us. I know I could unplug tomorrow, and hey, I might. We all might. We have that choice, and that’s what makes the Internet what it is: free, open, ungoverned and, ultimately, up to us. For now, at least.


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