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If you don’t want people to see it, keep it off the web

May 20, 2010 - Art Smith

There has been a lot of discussion lately about “private” information being available on line for anyone to see. Here’s a tip. If you don’t want anyone to see it don’t put it on line in the first place.

Facebook, the giant social networking site, has been changing things lately to make their site more functional. Some of the changes have been perceived as violating the privacy of individuals.

Really? Do people really not understand the function of a social network?

Facebook, like other social networking sites have different levels of access that you can give people. The tightest level only lets a profile be seen by your friends. At the other extreme a profile is wide open and can be viewed by anyone.

The most common setting is allowing friends and friends of friends to be allowed to see your profile, interest and photos. The average person on Facebook has 130 friends, so this would amount to around 17,000 people — that’s 17,000 people looking at the photo of you on the beach, or holding the wine glass at the party. You might think about that stat before putting up a photo that you would never share with the creepy guy down the street. Put it online and you may very well be doing exactly that.

I have some friends that have more than 1,000 friends on Facebook, so the numbers may actually be higher.

There is of course plenty of information available about you on the web. Your phone number, your address, likely what your house looks like, perhaps who you employer is. This has always been available, even before the Internet made it available. It’s called public record. The Internet has just made easier to access information that has always been available.

If you want to keep things private, keep them off the web.


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