I just updated my Facebook iPhone app. Upon opening it, Facebook Places was highlighted. This was my reminder to go in and change my privacy settings. There was an instance that made its way to my ears through noon hour chit-chat in our lunch room earlier this month. The friend of a coworker had reached a hotel in the Eastern US while on vacation with his family. He didn’t realize that while the hotel was checking him in, so was Facebook.
I don’t know this man. I don’t know how web savvy or non web savvy he is. I don’t know if he hit a button by accident. But the reality is, he checked in on Facebook Places somehow and didn’t realize he was doing it. His check in was broadcast to his friends on Facebook. Not a big deal, right? Well, that depends on how picky you are about who you’re friends with on Facebook. As my coworker commented, “what a great way to let people know the opportune time to break into your house”.
Facebook has ruffled more than a few feathers in its unconventional approach at defaulting to share your information. I for one am a fan of the culture shift they’re heavily influencing. It’s forcing each of us to be more aware of our actions and interactions, our relationships on and offline, our participation.
I think many people are up in arms about Facebook privacy because they want Facebook to do this work for them. They’re accustomed to someone else looking after them and their information. Well guess what? It’s on your shoulders. Facebook has given you the ability to take full control of what you’re sharing with your network and what you’re not sharing with your network (and don’t forget that the possibility exists today that ANYONE has the potential to see what you’re posting). In my mind, Facebook is doing us all a favour. The stakes are high if you haven’t looked into customizing your privacy settings or taken a good look at the information you’re sharing with your networks.
In a day and age where we cannot rely on the world around us to make smart decisions for us, where it is up to each of us to look after our own health (both physically, mentally and financially), where taking more and more ownership over elements of our lives is becoming the rule rather than the exception, Facebook is but a smaller piece of this really big pie.
Think about it. Self serve banking, managing your employee benefits, building your own website, doing your own home renos. Everywhere we look, there’s a DIY (do-it-yourself) format. So why is it that we’ve embraced it elsewhere and yet resist it so readily on Facebook?
The bar we once held to companies to protect us is now being held to each of us. We hold them to high levels of due diligence, do the same for yourself. Acknowledge the favour Facebook is doing for you, be an adult, and be accountable for your actions online. It’s not up to Facebook to protect you. It’s upto you to do that.