Horse, Barn Door, Oops

Every other week, it seems, we hear about some Facebook change or other that opens up more privacy concerns.  The most recent change is Facebook “Groups,” which I’ve looked into but don’t quite understand.  I had filtered some of my friends through the available “lists” function, which worked just fine for me.  But apparently that was too complicated, so Groups was rolled out, which is incredibly easy to use, but is also a big gaping hole in the privacy wall many have built.  Turns out you can create groups and add people to them without their permission. Yes, that person can then remove themselves from a group they’ve been added to, but that whole “opt out” thing just sets a lot of people’s nerves on edge.  I rather agree; I’d rather be opting in than opting out.

But the truth is, nothing about Facebook considers individuals’ privacy.  It has never considered privacy concerns at more than a superficial level, and that is not likely to change.  Whether that is right or wrong, if you signed up for Facebook and have posted on Facebook and have used Facebook, your privacy is like the horse out the barn door — long gone.

All the privacy settings employed fully will still make it possible for people to find you.  It’s all about associations, and how others who are in your inner circle protect their privacy.  And considering I have quite a few people on my friends’ list who are not geeks or are young and/or immature or just ignorant about how it all works, then it is inevitable that more people will know about my comings and goings, and my attitude, than I might realize.

It’s one thing to draw graffiti on the wall with a Sharpie.  It’s a whole other to draw that graffiti and signing it with your full name and hometown and finishing it off with a picture of yourself next to your graffiti.

Of course, now that the horse is out of the barn, what can you do?  You can pretend you never owned a horse and burn down the barn to remove all evidence (i.e., leave Facebook and cancel your account) but the reality is, the forensic science of today would easily find evidence of the horse and what exactly you were doing in that barn.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.  And even caution up front and vigilance along the way has not saved most people; I’m about as cautious as they come and I have found myself exposed in more ways than I’d like.

The best advice, always, is to be careful what you post online.  If you don’t want a particular someone seeing something, then don’t post it, anywhere.  Period.  Because things have a way of finding their way to the person you lease want to see it.  There is truly no such thing as anonymous on the web, much less on Facebook.  The web is an open book, and anyone can find and read that open book.