My entire family is slowly migrating to the digital landscape and specifically social media. One by one, not just my teen and twenty-something cousins, but my parents and aunts too. I personally do not remember my first interaction with the web, but I am positive it wasn’t anything as overwhelming as it could be now. I just finished talking to my cousin who was understandably concerned about posting pictures of her young kids in public forums. I gave her a couple tips, but I thought it was also a good opportunity to share with the class.
Facebook Privacy Settings
Whether you are concerned with your privacy or blissfully going through the interweb with blinders on, it’s a good idea to check out what your privacy settings are in Facebook (and any other site where you are sharing information). In Facebook, you can get to these settings here:
Here you can decide how various pieces of your shared identity are seen. For example, I don’t mind a great deal of my info being seen by not just my friends, but their friends and any networks I belong to. I am bit more restrictive with some of my info though, only showing it to my friends or groups I have made within friends.
Friend Lists in Facebook
One cool feature that Facebook has, for those of us concerned about who sees what, is Friend Lists. You can add groups of people into lists. For example, I have mine separated as such:
and then you can use these lists in the privacy settings I talked about above, by choosing the “Custom” option in the drop down:
You can also do this same thing on the Album level for your pictures.
Photo Sharing Sites
Another option that is popular in social media is sharing photos with friends and loved ones. While you can do this in Facebook, the privacy settings are blanket over every photo tagged of you or by albums. Many of the photo sharing sites offer privacy on the picture level as well.
Flickr and Picasa are 2 very popular sites. There are tons of others and I usually recommend uploading a couple pictures to each one and seeing which interface agrees with you most. Picasa just released a desktop client, very similar to Apple’s iPhoto, which is supposed to have Flickr upload capabilities integrated. Neat!
What to make private
Now this is totally a personal preference thing. What I like to recommend is that you go through a mild “what if…?” scenario exercise:
- “What if a potential future employer saw this picture?”
- “What if someone can figure out your location from the background images in the picture?”
- “What if I look HORRIBLE in that picture?”
Whatever level of comfort you feel with the answers to those questions, set your privacy accordingly. But remember, there is such a thing as being TOO paranoid.
Bad things happen, sure, but paranoia is not a healthy way to live offline or online. The internet is just an extension of the real world. Very good things can happen when you are more extroverted in the offline space, the same can be true online. If you are are too closed off, a cool opportunity could possibly pass you by.
So be smart, use moderation in your decision and have fun (hopefully this is how you run your offline life too). This is a whole new way to connect with people, USE it!
Hope this helps! Let me know if there is anything else you want me to add.