Monday, February 14, 2011

Privacy and Social Media

Lately I have been hearing more and more about Facebook and its privacy settings, and how everyone is up in arms about it. I just don’t understand what all the commotion is about. I should preface what follows with the fact that I work for a social media monitoring company and that this posting reflects my personal views only, and that I am not speaking on behalf of my employer.
For the most part I am a fairly guarded and private person. In conversation I often choose to answer a direct personal question with a vague and ambiguous reply, as I have always believed that my privacy was important. It may seem odd to some then to learn that I have had a Facebook presence since 2007, I have been on LinkedIn since 2009 and I have recently taken to Twitter and blogging. Heck, I even use Foursquare on my iPhone and link that to my Twitter and Facebook accounts.
I have always been protective of my social presence and my personal brand. I am very selective with regards to what I post to my status updates and my tweets. So it should not be a huge surprise to anyone that when I read that specific aspects of my profile can be seen by everyone who has a web browser my reaction is a genuine “so what?”
Let me explain. I use the different social platforms in different ways and for different purposes. After all, that is what they were intended for.
My first (and only) rule of social media is that my Facebook page is my personal space, family and friends only. Occasionally a friend of a friend, if I met you at least once and it seemed like we shared some commonality. A friend of mine summed it up best: “To be my friend on Facebook you have to be someone I would sit down and have a beer with.” That is a good rule of thumb if you ask me. I have the ability to “untag” a picture of myself if I need to but have never had to exercise this right. I don’t care what the public can see because I have only updated what I am willing to share. My profile is not locked down so people cannot see it, they can only see what is there, what I am willing to share with the world.
I use LinkedIn for business and professional development purposes. If I have ever worked with you I will connect with you. In fact if anyone sends me a request to connect I will accept it, regardless of how I know you or even if I have never you. This is my professional arena where I belong to global groups and share knowledge with people I have never met in hopes that it helps all of us perform in our jobs better. My Facebook and LinkedIn accounts are not connected in any way, and I see no reason that they should be.
Twitter resides in the delicate space between my personal and my professional worlds, and yes this is where the two worlds collide. I work in social media so I have an understanding that it is important to be diverse, informative and entertaining with my tweets. It is also important to engage in conversations not only professionally but also personally. I also need to be sure athat I do not become a megaphone for my employer or any other cause as that is not conversation.

My goal is not to amass a specific number of followers, but to follow people I respect personally and/or professionally. Some tweets entertain me, some educate me and others keep me up to date with what friends and colleagues are doing. Hopefully my tweets accomplish the same those that follow me.
So if you really want to protect your privacy, be sure to check your security and privacy settings. Not the ones on Facebook, the ones you use to filter what you are posting and commenting. You know the ones…they are the same filter settings we use every day when we meet someone on the street that we haven’t seen in a few months. I believe the technical term for them is common sense.

1 comment:

  1. Great read Ralph, I agree whole heartedly with your sentiment and use these social media sites in exactly the same way!!