I love the online magazine Slate. There are usually quite a few interesting articles, and the Dear Prudence column is great. Some of the things people write in are just … Shocking. I often wonder if some of the questions are “real,” but I have to think they are … Who would make up such fucked up things and pass them off as reality? I mean, if you’re going to make up fucked up shit, at least try to sell it to a publishing house or movie producer or … Something.
Anyway, this post isn’t about Dear Prudence (I can feel the disappointment!), but it is about an article I read on Slate about a week ago.
The article is called “If You’ve Ever Posted Anything Embarrassing on Facebook, Now Is the Time to Hide It.” It was written by Will Oremus and posted on Monday, 07/08/2013.
If you’re interested in reading the article yourself, here is the link: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/07/08/facebook_graph_search_privacy_nightmare_is_preventable_if_you_change_your.html.
I still don’t know much about the new “Graph Search” feature. To be honest, I don’t really use Facebook a lot. I check it periodically, like a few things now and then, comment even less, and post updates/pictures even less than that. I do try to keep “embarrassing” stuff to a minimum, though I’m obviously not obsessed with privacy. I mean, I’m writing a public blog post right now. I’ve posted personal photos that include my face, my fiancé’s face, and parts of our apartment.
Would I want just anyone to find this blog? Well, probably not. I do swear a lot, after all.
However, I consider myself to be a pretty open person. I don’t think I would ever write something in my blog that would cause me to be mortified if someone I knew came across it. I love Eric, my friends, my family, my coworkers, and my job … So I’m not going to write awful things about any of them (or my job) for the world to see. There’s no need to, since I don’t have those negative feelings.
That being said, my Facebook (which does contain my full name and some other personal details that I’d likely leave off my public blog) is friends only. My privacy settings are pretty hardcore … People actually can’t find me unless they are a friend of a friend. I prefer this because I hate getting weird friend requests from people I don’t know. I’m like, “Who is Petunia Cunningham? Her profile picture is an image of Kate Moss and her information indicates that she lives in Belize. I’ve never been to Belize, and I’m pretty sure she is not Kate Moss.” Friend request DENIED!
But seriously, I don’t want random friend requests.
I also don’t like the idea of random people seeing the things I post. I may post infrequently, but I still don’t want a complete stranger reading a funny conversation I had with Eric or seeing a picture I took at the last concert I went to. I’m sharing these things because I enjoy sharing funny and/or interesting stuff with others … But only if those “others” are friends/acquaintances. (Or, in the case of this blog, people who at least don’t know my last name, which college I went to, the year I graduated from high school, etc.)
I think it’s important to realize that everything you put on the internet is most likely out there forever (unless you somehow figure out a way to delete everything) … But you can definitely be smart about it. And even if you’re not (hey, we’ve all been young and stupid), you can at least do everything you can to ensure that only certain people can see the images, view the posts, etc.
I know the easy answer here is “Don’t post shit on Facebook.” But people use social media. Even if they’re not into Facebook, they may use Twitter, post on an online forum, blog … There are so many possibilities (and thus so many opportunities for people to come across things you’ve said or done online). No one’s perfect, so there’s always the potential for embarrassment (or worse).
If anyone reading this has any thoughts on this topic, I’d love to hear them. Do you use Facebook? Why or why not? What do you personally do to ensure random people (or important people, like your boss or a potential employer) don’t come across something that could paint you in a negative light?