Social Network privacy

Stop complaining about your privacy on social networks and just think about what you post before you post it. What you share is up to YOU!

The last few months, tech sites on the web have been filled with stories of privacy invasions by Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft and Santa Claus. I’ve grown so tired of hearing about it because for the most part, it’s A) your own fault for not understanding how to configure the site preferences. And B) you shouldn’t worry about it, because you simply aren’t that important.

Let’s take Facebook for example

With the recently-released Ticker on the newsfeed page and the yet-to-be-released Timeline update to your Profile page, people are barking at the moon that their status updates are now out there for the world to see; thus invading their privacy. Well uh, I hate to tell you this but, THEY ALWAYS WERE. And isn’t that the whole point of a SOCIAL network?

Anything you type into that status update box gets shown to the whole world unless you set your privacy preferences not to, or use Facebook Lists to control who can see it. This hasn’t changed. The Ticker isn’t showing anything now that people weren’t seeing in the newsfeed before, they’re just seeing it in near real-time now. I’m not a fan of the ticker, I think it’s annoying. But by no means to I feel like my privacy has been invaded because the people I chose to see my status updates actually do see them.

The Timeline Profile page update seems to be catching the most heat. I’m not sure why, because it isn’t displaying anything that the current Profile Pages doesn’t, it’s just making it easier to zoom back & forth in your Facebook history. They’re simply saving people from having to scroll and click for an hour to go back five years to find that adorable poem you wrote for you kid that they remembered.

Facebook privacyNow there are some minor tweeks that you will have to perform in order to get the privacy level you want out of Facebook, but let’s not be dramatic. It’s not that big of a deal. If you would say it to your momma, use the Public setting. If you don’t want your momma to see it, then create a List and shut up already.

If you’ve accepted friend requests from 800 people you’ve never met in your life, that’s you’re problem. The 15 people you actually know that follow you probably don’t care that you ditched work yesterday and went to the ballgame after you called-in sick. If you accepted a friend request from your boss and he saw it – then you clearly don’t know how to set up Facebook Lists, and lack a basic amount of common sense anyway.

Facebook isn’t alone

I recently saw numerous people complaining in the comments of an article on a tech site about how they felt violated because Google requires that you use your legal name as your username for Google+ (they even go so far as asking for proof if they don’t believe your legal name is “LarryPage Sucks” or “XYZ Company”). C’mon people. You have to offer your legal name every time you purchase something with credit card or check. Why is it that using your real name when signing up to be one of millions of users of a free service where (most likely) nobody knows who or where you are, all of a sudden bothers you?

Let’s be reasonable

Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t want to just hand out personal/private information to anyone who asks. But Facebook, Google, Twitter… they’re all offering a FREE service. And they’re doing it in exchange for some information about you so that they can sell that information and (heaven forbid) make a buck or two. Everyone over the age of 15 knows that this is how it works. If this information is a revelation to you, then you need to get off the Internet right now.

I mean seriously, what do you care if Facebook sells the fact that you like fly-fishing to Field & Stream magazine? Does this somehow put you in jeopardy? And if you’re concerned that someone can read through your Foursquare and Facebook check-ins to figure out when you’re not home, STOP CHECKING IN! I know your ego really wants to get the mayorship badge for the porn shop down the street, but that’s not Foursquare’s problem. We use these features because we WANT to use them, not because we’re forced to.

You have to offer your legal name every time you purchase something with credit card or check. Why is it that using your real name when signing up to be one of millions of users of a free service where (most likely) nobody knows who or where you are, all of a sudden bothers you?

Ok, so my arguments don’t sit well with you. That’s fine. I can respect that, and I don’t blame you. But for the love of God, terminate your account with whatever service in question, don’t sign-up for ANYTHING on the Internet, and shut the hell up already. And before you say it, I know Facebook keeps your information even after you cancel your account. But they don’t show it to anyone you know, and you really aren’t important enough to make it public for any nefarious purposes anyway. I guarantee you that, by and large, the world doesn’t care about anything you post on Facebook.

In the end, we all CHOOSE to use social networks, none of us are forced. Before you complain about privacy issues, think about what you’re signing up for before you actually do it, and understand how the network’s privacy settings work (no matter how complicated they may be). You need to use common sense when posting on social networks. If you wouldn’t be willing to share what you want to post with everyone you know, you probably shouldn’t post it online. Because complaining about it afterward is like complaining about the fact that you have to put gas in the car you just bought.