I was looking around facebook the other day and came across this strange bit of functionality that I am guessing very few people know about…
I had a “friend” who was tagged in a photo taken by a “friend” of his. I took a moment and checked out this photo. While there, I discovered that I could browse not only the picture of my “friend” but the entire “album”. This album was loaded with photos of people whom I did not know but were in some interesting and potentially compromising positions. There I was, able to view the photos of people that were posted by someone who had assumed that they had posted them only for “approved” people to see.
In the new online world – the definition of privacy and permission has taken on a whole new meaning. Now, you could be at a party, someone you did not know could take a picture with you in it, that person could post in on facebook or some other online social networking site, and then people that person does not even know could be able to view that picture. Sound complicated? It is. Sound scary? It is. Particularly scary is the fact that few people know the permissions associated with what they post.
So then – can I avoid it?
I often hear people who say – “that is why I am not on facebook” or “that is why I will not allow my kid to be on those sites”. Well… that is not good enough. Can you say “that is why I am not going out” or “that is why I am not going to be around people” ? No. But that is what it will take. In time, like everything else, regulation will take over once some people are sued over this. But interestingly, I do not think the regulators are smart enough to think through this problem. I am not sure who is?
So what do you do?
My recommendation is – 1) don’t avoid – participate – get smart by being a part of the new wave, understanding it, and then teaching yourself and others how to manage within the new paradigm, 2) educate and inform – help others to learn what is really going on – don’t fight it but educate so that people are more aware.