Saturday, February 26, 2011

Think Before You Post

Take a look at this:,17508/

Call it fake news, call it comedy, call it yet another distraction you wander onto in the middle of class (between Facebook and Perez, natch), but I’m calling it as I see it – The Onion’s pretty much hit the nail on the head.

I think by now we’re all aware of the perils of posting our lives on Facebook. It’s become well-known thanks to projects like this one and even the occasional news story popping up on the topic of shielding your profile from the wary eyes of prospective employers, mom and all around creepers. Set your privacy settings to the maximum – friends only for everything, they say, and untag yourself from any unsavoury albums. You cautiously oblige, removing any evidence of that night out a few weeks back that may not be appreciated by that potential employer a few weeks, months or even years down the line. You sigh a sigh of relief and go back to not writing that essay for class tomorrow.

I’m sure there aren’t very many of us Facebook-frequenters have read the privacy policy put out by Facebook. Yup, it’s there – very bottom of your news feed (third button from the right). Check it out, it’s a good read.

Take for example that picture your deleted of yourself – it may simply be an awkward shot of your bad side (on a bad day), or it could be something a little more incriminating. Either way, once it’s up on Facebook, it’s up. Forever out of your hands. Scroll down about 3/4 way down Facebook’s Privacy Policy which explicitly reserves their right to create a “Backup Copy” of your information. In other words, “removed and deleted information may persist in backup copies”. Think of it as a little filing cabinet somewhere in California holding evidence of all your drunken escapades.

Even creepier still, you think you finally shook the Facebook chip off your shoulder by “deactivating” your account? Out of sight, out of mind, right? Well, “when you deactivate an account, no user will be able to see it, but it will not be deleted”. Facebook holds onto your pictures, wall posts, comments and status updates, in case/in the hopes you decide to return to the dark side. The process of deleting ones account is a commitment indeed, at which point there’s no going back. Those hours, nee, days you spent on your Farm, “Liking” those hundreds of status updates and creating albums of all your family functions and childhood memories will be gone from that ethereal filing cabinet in Mark Zuckerberg’s basement and into the ether.

I’m not writing this to try and convince you to permanently delete your Facebook, nor am I chastising you for posting your private information. What I myself have gotten from the Reconnect is a new consciousness about Facebook; a new awareness that everything we put out into cyberspace is just that – put out there and thus, out of our control.

Don’t let those customizable privacy settings lull you into a false sense of security. Think before you hit “post”.

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