Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Our Loss Of Privacy Through Social Media

When was the last time you checked your privacy settings on any of your social network sites, last week, last month, never?  We may be under the false impression that we are sharing with just our "friends" or a particular group, but most of us are sharing our lives with the entire world.  The question to ask is do you care?

With each press of a like button, we tell advertisers that we want them to continue to pitch products to us; with every GPS link to our location and the place we are visiting, we tell the world that we are not at home.  For me, it seems like an invitation to the world that our house is empty as we regale the world with our vacation photos while we are on vacation.  And while we think we are only sharing with a specific number of people, our privacy settings may be saying otherwise.

It may simply be a fine line between sharing and privacy; how much we want to share and how often we want to share the events of our lives.  It is both a blessing and a curse.  For families and friends spread far and wide, social networking becomes a means to stay connected.  For those seeing financial inducement to share what you've purchased or where you are eating, it may offer discounts or more. Sites like Foursquare and Living Social are especially helpful in this matter.

But the negative effects include telling the world that you were invited somewhere that others were not.  In children, that seems to happen frequently when postings of gatherings and parties tell others that they were not included.  A level of social awkwardness amplified through sites like Instagram, Facebook, and others.  And because the information lives on for eternity, it remains a permanent reminder of who is in and who is out.  Heartbreaking at times for kids going through adolescence and figuring out their own self-worth.

There is no easy answers for social networking and privacy.  It comes with both benefits and risks.  But it is clear that we at least know the settings that are enabled on each of our social networking sites and how, where, and who we are sharing our lives with.  So take a moment to check your settings and consider with every post, the possible ramifications it might cause. 

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