How Private is Facebook?

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Are you leaving Facebook? With all of the concern over privacy lately, many people are choosing to close their accounts. Others are educating themselves with the changes Facebook has made and making the best choices for their profile pages. Still more people are clueless… they don’t realize what is being shared and with whom. They have no idea how to fix this problem once they do learn of it. They just keep going along with their heads in the sand, and hope for the best. This isn’t the way things should be, folks. You shouldn’t have to be so afraid of what the wrong person might see. The fact is, if you put something online then someone will see it. I have come up with the perfect two-step plan to help solve this problem.


Step 2: Repeat step 1.

It’s that simple, really. I know you think it’s cool to say nasty thing online when you’re a teenager. I know that it’s hilarious when you trash someone on your Facebook page or Twitter account. After all, no one is going to see it, right? Think about this, though… you’re 22 years old, and you just graduated college. You’re looking for the perfect job. However, there are firms out there who make a LOT of money to investigate you – including your online presence. Even when you delete that bad tweet or the Facebook comment you regret, it’s still there somewhere. The damage will have been done. Someone will have been hurt by what you said, or another person will have archived a screenshot of it. It can – and often will – come back to bite you in the ass.

As I already said, many people are confused about Facebook’s privacy changes. The kids on the site are the ones who concern me the most. Many of them truly don’t have a clue. Case in point: my assistant Kat heard about a friend’s teenage daughter who had gotten into trouble with a group of her friends for something they had done at school. Kat logged into Facebook, and went to the girl’s Facebook page, forgetting that they aren’t “friends.” Low and behold, she could read everything on the child’s Wall anyway. What she saw astounded her… there were the other girls who had been caught… posting away on her Wall. One girl bragged about how she is not in trouble with her parents because of the elaborate lies she came up with. True story, folks. And by the way? That girl’s parents now know exactly what their sweet little princess had done, thanks to a screenshot and an email.

Just because you’re sitting in the privacy of your own home doesn’t mean that things you share online won’t be seen by people you don’t want to see them. You could stay offline, certainly. You could quit Facebook if you wanted. Or, you could be just a tad more selective as to what you share. There is such a thing as over-sharing. Do you really think that you’ll be the same person in ten or twenty years that you are now?

The gestures you make online… just assume the world will see them. This isn’t really Facebook’s problem. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t change their policies. I’m saying that at the end of the day, the burden for keeping your information private lies on your own shoulders. You are the one ultimately responsible for what others do – and don’t – see.

Don’t push the responsibility for your privacy onto anyone else. Period. End of story.

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