Safety in Numbers..?
Our perceptions of privacy have changed through out time. However, since the launch of the internet theses perceptions have changed more than ever. Yet, it is the changing nature of privacy due to the advent of social networking, or more specifically to this work, Facebook, that will be discussed here.
Before I begin discussing the idea of privacy in relation to Facebook, we must look at
Facebook, the facts;
Currently there are 500 million “Facebookers”.
1 in 13 people in the world are on Facebook.
Facebook gets 540 million unique visitors per month, which is 35.4% of the internet population.
Facebook generates 770 billion page users per month.
The average person has 130 friends.
750 million photos were uploaded over the New Years weekend 2010.
The average user has 80 community pages, groups and events.
In May 2010 Google announced that Facebook was the most visited site on the internet out of a list of 1000 websites.
As we can see, Facebook is a massive international phenomenon, something that we may forget within our own little separate Facebook worlds. We may fail to remember that Facebookers are almost everywhere and we are only a few clicks away from total strangers.
Facebook stalking, generally, does not seem to be a malicious occurrence. We are all driven by our curiosity, it is simple human nature to want to know something about other people, and Facebook stalking gives an individual the perfect forum to assuage this curiosity without looking overtly disturbing. We have all Facebook stalked, whether by accident, trying to find if the person you are looking at is actually someone you know, or more purposely, looking through random people’s photos from the sheer need to snoop.
Unlike regular stalking, Facebook stalking is much less likely to have legal repercussions, and is generally accepted by its voyeuristic victims. It is argued that if you do not want other people to know about your life and actions, you would not put it up on Facebook where anyone can legitimately see it.
As stated above, social networking has totally changed our concepts of privacy. Never before would we have updated our friends and our “friends” on our status everyday, and sometimes several times a day. We tend to put things up on Facebook that we would never say in real life for fear of who would hear or see. However, we put the most intimate details of our lives on Facebook, and do not expect anything to happen.
So, what exactly are we putting up on Facebook?
Many individuals have a number of the personal details listed below accessible to everyone on their Facebook profiles;
Date of Birth
Religious and political beliefs
In reality we would never share such details with people that we do know, let alone strangers. The last two are especially dangerous to put up on your status. To share your holiday details with everyone that you are friends with and those you are not can put you in a very vulnerable position in relation to the safety of your home and personal property, especially when coupled with your home address.
Unless you customize your privacy settings you are left with the recommended settings as described below;
|Everyone||Friends of friends||Friends only|
|Your status, photos and posts||•|
|Bio and favorite quotations||•|
|Family and relationships||•|
|Photos and videos you’re tagged in||•|
|Religious and political views||•|
|Permission to comment on your posts||•|
|Places you check in to||•|
The danger here is the “Friends of Friends”, as they have a great deal of access to your page and account. You never quite know who is looking at your account, and who has access to your personal details.
Also, if you leave your default privacy settings on Facebook, it is possible to go to any search engine, Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask.com, etc. type in your name and have your Facebook profile appear, giving anyone who searches your name access to whatever you have on open access on your account. Though, of course, it is possible to turn this setting off in your privacy settings.
On Facebook you are always one click away from what is basically a stranger. What I am hinting at here is that all of us on Facebook have friends that we only vaguely know, whether they are old childhood friends who you meant to reconnect with and never quite managed it, or someone you added on a night out and rarely, if ever, see again. Facebook has no solution for the issue, “he is my friendster, but not my friend.”
There is also the issue of meeting people for the first time on Facebook, these people could be perfectly legitimate and become great friends. However, there is also the fact that these individuals could be anyone, and not necessarily the people that they are claiming to be. Peter Steiner’s cartoon from The New Yorker, 1993 perfectly illustrates this point;
“On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”
It is perfectly possible to create online identities and gain access to other individuals’ accounts with the false offers of friendship.
The Majority of Facebookers have had some contact with frapping, whether you were the victim, or the perpetrator. No one really takes these frappes particularly seriously; yet, these frappes can lead to lost friendships and lost jobs, especially is the frappe goes unnoticed for extended periods of time. This is a quite easily avoidable invasion of privacy; you can avert it by simply logging out of Facebook properly and not saving your password into any computer, even personal ones, no matter how convenient it is.
We have all seen the ads by the side of our Facebook accounts, these ads are actually personalized to what you do on Facebook and the personal information you have on Facebook;
-What groups you are in
-What age you are
-What area you are in
How safe is your information? A question all of us should ask, and yet the majority of us do not, assuming that something as popular as Facebook would be secure and honest.
A Career Risk?
Is Facebook a career risk? Employers have increasingly used social networks, including Facebook, to check out potential employees, and to keep an eye on current employees. This means that if your account is open to a certain degree, your future employers have the ability to look at your profile and pictures.
We have all heard the horror stories of individuals losing their employment due to what they put up on Facebook, for example; Susanne Morrison a photographer with a local newspaper the ‘County Down Outlook’ was fired due to the comments she made about Michaela Harte on her Facebook page. She stated on her Facebook page that Michaela’s murder in Mauritius was “karma” and said “what goes around comes around.” These comments most likely made in the heat of the moment lead to her losing her employment and also seriously dented her creditability and reputation. This case shows how far something said in passing on Facebook can travel.
It is not just your status that can get you into difficulty, your photos can also lead to trouble as ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, there have been cases where people have lost their jobs due to compromising photos being put up on Facebook.
In some corporate companies, before you are allowed to work on their company, you must sign a document stating that you will not write about the company on Facebook, whether positive or negative.
One of the major questions that people should ask before joining social networks is; “are we online forever?” Can we ever actually get offline, or delete our social networking accounts? Even if you delete your Facebook account, you are still not gone from the site. You are still on the lists of the applications and groups that you have added or joined, as they still have your email addresses. Thus insuring that you will be plagued with emails even after your page is gone.
So, what is your Facebook account saying about you? Literally. What do you allow your Facebook page to show to everyone?
Through researching this project it became quite clear to me that many people have no idea how to answer the above questions, they had simply left their accounts on all the recommended settings. However, in today’s society we cannot leave it so as it can lead to a great deal of trouble further down the line, not just with employment, but with future friends and partners.