Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Everything Is Public

In preparation for a presentation I'm making with my friend Jake this weekend ("Parenting Teens in a Social Media World") I've been compiling examples of how people use and misuse sites like Facebook and Twitter.  These web resources are often used for good (if they weren't, why would Facebook have over 1 billion active monthly users worldwide?).  However, there are plenty of examples of how online missteps have resulted in people jeopardizing their jobs, friends, marriages, and standing in their communities.

If I had one bit of advice to people who use social media it's this: assume everything is public!

Yes, Facebook allows you to limit the scope of your status updates (words, links, pictures, videos) so that only your *friends* can see.  Twitter has something similar with "protected tweets."  However, once those people see what you've posted, they can print that page or take a screen cap of what you posted.  From there, that information can be shared with anyone.  There are too many tales of people who posted "private" data and got burned.

Whenever I post something on-line, I scroll through my list of friends/followers and imagine myself in the same room with some of those people.  Would the information I'm about to post on line be something I'd say aloud to my next door aunt...the elderly lady from church...the person who seeks to do me harm?  If the answer is "no" then I don't post it.

Assume everything is public.

I may sound a tad paranoid, but in the world of social media, you lose control the second you publish something.  If you don't want some people to know about it, don't post it.

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