Joined: 27 December 2005
Joined: 21 October 2008
Joined: 03 December 2005
Joined: 01 January 2006
Joined: 01 January 2006
Joined: 10 October 2008
Is the internet safe place these days?
Do you like your family members seeing your social networking messages and friends ?
Joined: 21 October 2008
Don't friend me! I mean it.
While we're talking about this, I don't want to be Twittered, blasted, poked or super-poked, either. Kindly refrain from telling me What You're Doing Right Now, and I'll return the favor.
Don't confide that you have two spleens or that you threw up at your junior prom, and I won't burden you with my secret passion for the late Paul Henreid.
It's not that I don't like you. It's just that, if I want you to know that stuff, maybe it would be nicer to tell you in person over a glass of wine than to send out a buckshot bulletin to 200 people online.
Look, there's not a thing wrong with Facebook. But all this hysteria and hand-wringing over privacy could readily be sidestepped by not posting private information on the Internet.
The big alarm went off this week when alert bloggers noted a change in the micro-print "terms of service" agreement that goes with signing up for the ubiquitous social-network site. "Facebook owns you!" angry critics howled.
Opinions seem divided over whether the change in language actually constitutes a threat. Some saw a resurgence of the company's ill-fated "Beacon" experiment, when it devised the idea of essentially alerting everybody you know every time you buy something.
Others say it was nothing more than standard, self-protecting legal language. No matter: The bad-publicity deluge put Facebook's CEO (How old is that guy, anyway? Seventeen?) on the defensive, and the change was – for the moment – abandoned.
But people are surely fooling themselves if they depend on a company – any company – to guarantee privacy for information voluntarily posted in a place that, by definition, is extremely public.
Face this: You are your own front line of defense in maintaining your privacy. This extends to vetting personal information on the Internet. In the same way, it means exercising discretion over allowing people to take hilarious party pictures of you that might wind up being published as the Bong Hit Heard 'Round the World.
Sites like Facebook work from an oddly inverted social premise of starting with the whole of cyberspace and winnowing your way down, through a series of blocks and filters. Don't want that creepy guy from the mailroom to be your "friend"? You have to reject him. Don't want embarrassing pictures of you posted to your "wall"? Make sure you trust your friends.
Some people seem to plant the flag with a minimum of information: no picture, no bio, no recitation of favorite bands or (God help us) astrological sign. They bypass the rather juvenile, one-size-fits-all personality template the site provides.
But others "share" in an odd stream-of-consciousness broadcast about what they wore today, how they feel, what time they need to be at the dentist, and leave it to their friends to sift through the information for what's relevant. Their friends do the same to them – there's no boundary between what goes on inside and outside their skulls.
And that's what's really, deeply, seriously frightening.
What if, in our addiction to the temporary rush of joy that we all experience in talking about ourselves, we lose the ability to distinguish between our public and our private selves?
If we don't have enough sense not to "friend" somebody we haven't seen in 20 years and we didn't really know that well in the first place, what business do we have getting all huffy over Facebook's terms of service?
How can we expect somebody we don't know to safeguard our privacy if we think so little of it ourselves?
Sure, Facebook has an obligation to its users. But long before that, users have obligations to themselves.
Joined: 01 June 2004
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