facebook and privacy

Can you be Dr. Jekyll AND Mr. Hyde on Facebook?

By Social Media

It’s a challenge many of us face — straddling the chasm between our personal and professional lives or the personality we have among friends and the personality we have with, say, our grandmothers.

It’s not that we’re necessarily two different people altogether, it’s just that some content we want to share with friends, and some we really don’t want our grandma to see.

So who to be on Facebook, Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde? And can you successfully manage being two different people on that social network? 

My first piece of advice is this: DO NOT HAVE TWO DIFFERENT PROFILES. First of all, it’s weird. Second, it makes it really hard for people to figure out which one of you they should be friends with.

Instead, manage who sees what by developing lists. For some, that list may be “Grandma and Mom,” or “Colleagues,” or “Exes from Texas.” The other list, the one you share ALL your crazy stuff with, may be simply “Friends.”

For me, I have lists like “Besties” and “Charlottesville” — the town where I live. I have “Business Contacts” and “Family.” Separating my friends into categories serves another purpose; it keeps me from boring the pants off of the people who just don’t really care about my Pinterest pins, my social activities or my cousin’s wedding.

This means, of course, that I have to manage my posting more carefully — I have to actually select to whom any given post is visible. It takes work!

Is it worth it? Well, for those of you struggling to maintain some kind of illusion with your grandmother, I suppose it is.

To get started, click on Friends in the sidebar and Create List. Give your list a name you’ll remember so you can, at a glance, know who’s included in that distribution.

Now, when I post an update, I can select from my list to decide who gets to see that update. For example, if I want to post something relevant to my St. Louis friends, I would select only that list.

It’s a bit cumbersome, sure, but can save a few embarrassing conversations with Grandma over the Thanksgiving turkey.

Facebook has also built in a setting that defaults to the LAST LIST TO WHICH YOU POSTED. So be careful to select the right audience before you post.

Editor’s note: Seriously — go see Jekyll and Hyde at Play On Theatre in Charlottesville this week — it’s spooktacular!

We’re Not Really Friends: Six Ways to Balance the Personal and Professional on the Social Web

By Social Media, Uncategorized

I hate to tell you this, but we’re not really friends.

OK, we might be friends, some of us. And I would hope that those of you who are actual friends know who you are.  But simply because we’re connected on a social network, or because you follow me on Twitter does not mean that you are allowed into all that I consider private in my life.

This has been a challenge for bloggers from day one, and while there’s a lot of content that I share as a person with a big online footprint, there’s a lot of stuff you don’t get to know. For everyone, there must be some content considered personal and therefore private. Define for yourself where that line is and draw it in permanent Sharpie.

My friend Waldo (and yes, we’re actual real life friends) manages his network like this: his Twitter feed is protected and plays host to a conversation he has with a select group of people (mostly programmers); his Facebook friends are actual friends — don’t try to friend him if you aren’t actually friends — you will be disappointed. As Waldo said recently, “I’m not a collectible.” (Although personally I think I’d like to have a Waldo bobblehead in my collection, but that’s a different matter altogether.)

The point is this: the decision to separate your personal and professional lives is a PERSONAL one but you must make it.

Here’s how I manage the professional vs. the private in my online profile:

  1. I don’t accept LinkedIn connections to people I have not met and have no reference or context to place them in my social network.
  2. I only follow people who have interesting content to share on Twitter. I unfollow if your content bothers me in some way, or if you have too little to say. I use a tool called UnTweeps to efficiently cull through the dead weight in my Twitter account from time to time.
  3. I don’t post anything I don’t want you to know. That seems simple enough, but if it’s none of your business, I have no business posting it online.
  4. I do post personal content in my professional space occasionally. I am me, across all platforms, so the people with whom I do business know that I like to bake pie; likewise my friends know what it is I do for a living.
  5. In Facebook, I am a creator and user of lists — if we don’t really know one another well, if we’re acquaintances or we used to know one another long ago, you’re in a list that has limited access to my content. I have a very short list of people (I’ve named it “homies” for the way that sounds when I am speaking to a crowd on this topic) of super close friends and family. I will use this list to communicate the insider information about our family and life. Generally though, that information will be delivered in person or on the phone.
  6. If you get stalker-ish and take advantage of an assumed relationship, if you make demands or get snarky and we’ve never even met or had a live conversation, you may be blocked from my content. Life is too short and bullies were cut out of my life as long ago as third grade. Move along and find someone to connect to that is interested in maintaining a relationship with you.

What about you? Are there unique ways you have found to keep the two halves of your life separate?