Facebook and Privacy
Yesterday, The Privacy Commissioner of Canada released a report that cited the popular social networking application Facebook for privacy violations. That’s a big deal when you consider that 1 in 2 Canadians has a Facebook account with an average of 150-300 friends.
The Privacy Commissioner of Canada noted problems on everything from how Facebook shares information to how long accounts remain up and visible after an account has been deactivated for whatever reason, including the death of the account holder.
Clearly, Facebook must take steps to better protect its clients’ information. But the report should act as a reminder on some basic rules for everyone who ever writes anything in any electronic format. Once you hit the share button, your post can remain forever, past the reach of pulling it down should you ever change your mind.
Here are some assumptions you should make prior to posting anything on Facebook and other social media sites:
1. Everyone can and will read it, including the tax department, border guards and the kid who nicknamed you “Stinky” in grade 3.
2. Once you’ve posted it, someone somewhere will capture what you’ve said via print screen, rendering the remove post function somewhat useless.
3. Somebody somewhere will upload and share with their networks something you’ve posted.
4. Somebody, somewhere, in your friends networks will share what your friend posted picked up from what you posted.
5. You are at some point likely to have a falling out with at least one of your Facebook friends.
How do you decide if something is post-worthy?
1. How would it read in a court of law? If you would be embarrassed, shamed or chagrined, that’s probably a good indicator that some re-thinking might be in order.
2. How would it read to anyone or organization you referenced?
3. How would it read to their legal department or advisor?
4. Could your post be considered hurtful to anyone?
5. Does it help or take away from your professional standing or the kind of person you would like to be seen as within your social circle?
Here are some basic rules for posting:
1. Use the H.A.L.T. rules. Never post when you’re too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. That’s when mistakes get made and you’re more inclined to do and say things you’ll regret later.
2. Try reading your post from the perspective of another, especially any organization or person you reference.
3. If you’re not sure, give your post one night’s sleep. Time and rest tend bring wisdom and clarity.Ask someone else. If you’re not sure about how something could be interpreted, fly it past someone you trust.
4. Are you putting anyone else at risk, either through pictures or words?
5. Post unto others as you would have posted unto yourself. If you wouldn’t want what you’re saying about someone else said about you, time to rethink your approach.
Facebook and other social media sites make us much more connected than we’ve ever been before. It also means our lives and thoughts are etched into electronic stone for posterity. Make sure your posts are worthy of you. Make sure your posts are worthy of your legacy.