Social Networking – A Private Playground?

Today, just about everyone is on at least one of the social domination networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin, Twitter, etc. I would guess that 90% of the people I know post their daily activities on Facebook or Twitter for everyone to see. A friend of mine who has no TV or computer, is on Facebook. Often times, there are posts revealing things I would rather not know, and other times, basic narration of daily activities like “going to the grocery store.” I know that I’m in the minority, but I’ve never been a big fan of the social networking sites. I do like to get on Facebook occasionally to keep in touch with old friends, but rarely do I ever post anything for everyone to see. I value my privacy enormously and what really scares me is the fact that most of the things you put on your Facebook and Twitter are being saved for anyone to search for an indefinite amount of time.

An individual’s views and opinions can vastly differ over say 10 years. There’s a good chance that our president 20 years from now is on Facebook or Twitter (or whatever comes next), informing everyone of his daily activities, political opinions, and habits among other things. What kind of effect might that have on an election in the future? Arguments could be made that this would provide greater transparency for voters in the United States when it comes time to elect a new president. It would most likely allow voters to make a more informed decision and ensure the candidate isn’t just saying what they want to hear.

Trying to get a new job or acceptance to a school? There’s a very good chance they are looking at your social networking sites to see what they can find out about you. The amount of resumes that are automatically disqualified because content found on the internet is amazing. You would assume it to be common sense to not put incriminating pictures of yourself on the internet and otherwise hurt  your reputation with prospective employers. It does however make an employer’s job a bit easier, quickly weeding out candidates that aren’t up to our standards.

Facebook privacy is another misunderstood concept. Even if your Facebook profile is private, your friends could be giving your information out to a lot more people than you realize. Naturally, individuals assume that because their profile settings are set to private, it is safe. Is that really the case though? All the games, quizzes, and other add-ons for Facebook that everyone willingly confirms access to could be saving all your data and potentially selling it. The ACLU recently put together a campaign to raise awareness about privacy issues surrounding Facebook applications and have some great information on their Facebook site. The ACLU reveals that a quiz author can see just about anything on your profile after you take their quiz including pictures, profile information, and comments.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing to hide from the general public. However,  I candidly enjoy having my privacy and communicating with people in person,  rather than reading about them online.

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