Last week, I spoke to the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce at the Emerging Technologies luncheon. My topic was privacy in the digital age and I wanted to particularly address ways one can manage one’s privacy using social media.
As a fan of social platforms, the last thing I want to do is instill fear in people about engaging online. It’s too easy to opt out and claim that it’s too dangerous or that privacy is a wholly false notion, never to be trusted again.
It is NOT difficult to manage privacy online but it DOES take some thought, research, planning and intent. It DOES take paying attention when platforms change their settings; their default setting is NOT to help keep your information private — anything but, in fact. So an active social life requires active management of one’s online presence.
Facebook, for example, gives users the false impression that those to whom they’re connected are “friends.” Are they, though — really?
I shared the following image during the presentation to make a point: I may be connected to more than 1,000 people on Facebook, but I have a list of those whom I consider “close friends,” numbering 20. Truth be told, that number’s probably even a little high. My very closest inner circle is only about three people. Sorry, Facebook universe, I just can’t be close to all of you.
When I post items to my personal profile, I can select from a list, WHO CAN SEE WHAT — and often it’s merely to not bore people outside of Charlottesville with Charlottesville-specific posts.
Overall, my main point when speaking about privacy and the social web is this: if it’s private, please don’t put it online. Meet a friend for coffee. Call your mom. But don’t post it on Facebook.