Social Media and Your Privacy

By November 29, 2011Social Media

As a SEO and Social Media Firm in St. Louis, we are constantly using various social media sites to help promote ourselves and our clients. Privacy is a very important thing when it comes to our clients and using social media. When we create their Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages, we want to include enough information so consumers and the target audiences will be thoroughly informed by reading their Facebook page, for example, but not provide enough information where someone can then spam them, or steal specific information to use against them.

Facebook has recently come under fire in regards to their privacy settings. As I write this blog post, the Federal Trade Commission and Facebook have reached a settlement over “deceptive practices related to several Facebook features.” The New York Times has said that “Under the agreement, Facebook would agree to privacy audits for 20 years. It would also prohibit Facebook from making public a piece of information that a user had originally shared privately on the site without express permission.” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said that “the settlement  requires Facebook to warn users about privacy changes and to get their permission before sharing their information more broadly.” Facebook is not the only social media site having privacy issues though.  Both Google and Twitter have recently been under scrutiny from the FTC about their privacy programs as well. Both have also agreed to change their privacy settings, to make certain aspects of their site for users private.

Users, businesses and politicians have attacked Facebook in the recent months for just automatically signing them up for features, without being asked first. They have also been under attack for  “privacy changes made in December 2009. Facebook said at the time that the changes would simplify settings users found confusing, they exposed information that could previously be made private, including profile photos, gender, friend lists and current city. Facebook also removed the ability to opt out of some features.”

Mark Zukerberg released a blog post today on Facebook that addressed the many privacy issues they have had. The title of this blog post is Our Commitment To The Facebook Community. In the post he explains how Facebook helped people become okay with sharing their private information on a public page on the internet, which many people at the time found to be “scary.” He continues on to say:

“We’ve added many new tools since then: sharing photos, creating groups, commenting on and liking your friends’ posts and recently even listening to music or watching videos together. With each new tool, we’ve added new privacy controls to ensure that you continue to have complete control over who sees everything you share. Because of these tools and controls, most people share many more things today than they did a few years ago. That said, I’m the first to admit that we’ve made a bunch of mistakes. In particular, I think that a small number of high profile mistakes, like Beacon four years ago and poor execution as we transitioned our privacy model two years ago, have often overshadowed much of the good work we’ve done.”

Zuckerberg also mentions that in the last 18 months they’ve announced over 20 new tools designed to give the users more control over our personal Facebook experince. Some of the tools that he mentions in the blog are:

  • An easier way to select your audience when making a new post
  • Inline privacy controls on all your existing posts
  • The ability to review tags made by others before they appear on your profile
  • Friend lists that are easier to create and that maintain themselves automatically
  • A new groups product for sharing with smaller sets of people
  • A tool to view your profile as someone else would see it
  • Tools to ensure your information stays secure like double login approval
  • Mobile versions of your privacy controls
  • An easy way to download all your Facebook data
  • A new apps dashboard to control what your apps can access
  • A new app permission dialog that gives you clear control over what an app can do anytime you add one
  • Many more privacy education resources

The Facebook founder also mentioned in his post that they are creating two new postions that will monitor privacy issues more closely. Those new titles are Chief Privacy Officer and Chief Privacy Officer for Products.

I personally think, that when you sign up for Facebook, or any other Social Media site, you should be well aware that all of the information you have put on that specific site is going to be made public in some capacity. Don’t put anything on their that you dont want people to know about! Its not that hard to figure out. I understand why Facebook, and other social media sites need to have rules in place about privacy, but I dont think the users of these sites, should be in such an uproar when settings are changed, or if certain information that THEY have entered into the site, is made public.

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