Social Networks and your Privacy

By | January 12, 2010

Everyone seems to be discussing online privacy, especially related to social networks. From the obvious candidates such as facebook and twitter, to youtube, flickr and others. People especially not used to social networks are highly concerned about the lack of privacy. The gist from recent conversations I’ve had, hasn’t been the obvious ‘sensitive information’ concerns, but shock at what people share and really is there any point to being involved in ‘social networks’, especially their business. Whereas the reality is everyone has been since day one, just different ones.

Your local pub doesn’t warn you what to say, unless you make a nuisance of yourself. Your business breakfast meeting doesn’t have a guideline on how to dress. The conference organisers don’t stop you at the door and give you a five minute walk through of ‘conference etiquette’. I’ve seen nudity in pubs, heard horrendous conversations at breakfast meetings and met people suffering hangovers at conferences, trying to keep their breakfast down whilst representing their organisations. The problem obviously being it’s logged, often search engine friendly and viewable to thousands if online. There will be and are those who regret what they’ve shared (done), same as the ‘offline’ world.

The reality is that younger generations are finding it easier to cope and appear to have less barriers and concerns than those decades older, who have been voicing their concerns to me recently (from 33yrs to 69yrs old).  Youtube was only formed in 2005, Flickr 2004 and twitter 2006.  These also are young organisations responding to the demand and always adapting to provide new features to increase visitors. Providing new ways to ‘engage’. I hope those who voiced their concerns to me recently, do join soon.  Bringing experience and views to the ‘conversation’, enriching it for all.

So what it all boils down to is…. common sense. As people become more familiar with online social networks, many will forget the concerns of the past and just adapt. I believe though we should have better support for the vulnerable online. Which still should be improved offline also!

As for those sharing what their ate for breakfast or what the weather is like. You can choose who to follow, whether to watch and listen and what you devote your time and energy to. You can choose whether to just provide links to your latest blog post, respond to people’s content or explore new ways of providing support etc. Social networks are not one size fit all. Pretty much the same for offline social networks if you ask me.