Leave Your Privacy at the Door

As I sat here about to wind down for the night, I noticed a new post by my friend Robert Scoble. Robert began an interesting discussion on his blog to talk about Facebook and privacy. All of the points he makes are right-on, and I found myself nodding in agreement much of the time I was reading.

It gets interesting, though, in the comments section. As Robert is fond of pointing out, that is usually always where you’ll find the most relevant opinions and discussions on any website. For instance, Brandon Soucie points out that “when it really comes down to it, how “private” are your interests, favorite music, movies, books, etc? And in what ways can it be harmful to have this information publicly accessible?” So what if Facebook tells the world what music I’m listening to? You’ve been able to find that out at any time during the past three years by tuning in to my live stream.

Much of the information that is no longer private on Facebook are things you already talked openly about, anyway. We tell the world via Twitter where we’re at nearly every moment thanks to check-in services like GoWalla and Foursquare. I see people updating regularly when their Pandora station plays a new song that they enjoy. People recommend their favorite movies, books and restaurants all over the Web. Why, then, are you so shocked and pissed that Facebook is giving out this same information?

I’m not trying to claim that there shouldn’t be boundaries and limitations. If Zuckerberg suddenly decided to display my address and social security number all over the place, we’d have a huge problem. However, that information isn’t even listed anywhere on the site. Facebook can only divulge what we feed into it. I don’t tell the site what time of day I get out of bed. I don’t post on my Wall every time I change my underwear. I don’t even discuss what I ate for dinner, for frick’s sake. I still have control of my “privacy.” No social networking site can take that away from me.

If you want something to stay private, you shouldn’t be posting it on the Internet. Long before everyone “Liked” everything, that was a golden rule of being online. Way before the days of e-Wars regarding privacy and sharing, we knew in our little brains that there are some things we should just keep quiet about. At the end of the day, you are still the one in the driver’s seat. You are the only person who can decide whether or not something should be shared.

If you don’t like the way Facebook is doing things these days, you don’t have to be a member. Continuing to use the service while complaining to anyone who will listen is not the way to help facilitate change. As Robert says, look for the positives in all of this. Keep your secrets close to your chest, and run out to expand your music horizons.