The Social Media Dilemma

The Social Media Dilemma post thumbnail image

Just how public is social media?

In a recent meeting at work a Social Media Policy was proposed. This maintains the privacy of individuals but makes the following observations;

  • in despite of privacy settings on social media sites anything that you “share” can be copied and shared beyond yourself
  • it is necessary to avoid blurring the lines between employment and social activities

It’s an interesting principle that no matter what you put on the vast variety of social media, it can be copied and observed.

One way you can look at it is in the following satirical manner, like this.

However, realistically, anything you put on a social networking site where it is directly linked to your own name should be and it is public.

I’ve had discussions with other people, ironically on Twitter, regarding the recent story in the US where employers are looking at people’s Facebooks.

I’m not condoning employers asking for employees Facebook logins to monitor their engagement and interaction on social media sites. However, the truth is, that if you put a picture on Facebook, whether it is of your wedding, a review drunk and being sick in the gutter, you have to appreciate that that content is open and available and can be shared.

Many people that have semipublic lives, or are in positions where they represent organisations, either completely exclude themselves on social media report from work public facing issues or maintain separate psuedonym accounts through which they can communicate honestly with a limited number of people.

However, it should be noted, that privacy settings on Facebook only go so far.

I choose not to disclose my e-mail address. However, people can search for me using my e-mail address. This is in spite of having my settings set so that people can only see me if they are a friend of a friend. For example were I looking for a job, a recruitment consultant with my main e-mail address would be able to locate me through social media sites without ever having a “friend” in common. As a result, I use a dummy e-mail addresses that have POP3 forwarding built-in.

I have my settings so the you can only see me in the event you have a friend in common with me. And you can only add me as a friend on that basis. However, I regularly advertised people to “add” to my friends list with whom I have no friends in common. On this premise, I must also be advertised to other people with whom I have no friends in common.

The moment you list yourself on the Internet, in any capacity, you’re opening yourself up to information about you being shared. it is reasonably easy to find out who I am, as the writer of this blog. However, I keep an awful lot of information very close to me.

As we are shifting to a society where the majority of my friends under the age of 25 have no problem with openly sharing their photographs, their e-mail addresses or their mobile numbers on their Facebook profiles let alone on Twitter, we need to move to managing information more sensibly. It is not enough to simply asserts that because you have privacy settings on the social media site you are therefore protected.

As the explanation of social media joke goes, it is incredibly easy to utilise social media for a variety of areas in your life. a pun on this;

  • Facebook: this is where I found you eating doughnuts
  • YouTube: this is where I watch you eating doughnuts
  • Twitter: this is where I see you talking about liking doughnuts
  • LinkedIn: this is how I trace your movements eating doughnuts
  • Foursquare: this is how I stalk you eating doughnuts

The dangers of social media are not know nor fully explored. The dangers of having a society incredibly open about sharing information without taking any responsibility for the sharing of information could have incredibly dangerous consequences. Not just the ease of stalking, but the vulnerability of the individual to being defrauded by a variety of means.

Even now there is no way to find out how many companies hold information on you following the sharing of information and sale of your data through social media sites. When you can easily be prosecuted for the sharing of information, how more blurred the lines have to become?

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