Thursday, May 29, 2014

Social Networking and Privacy

The internet has changed the way we communicate. One of the ways we are connecting online is through social networking sites. I keep hearing about the amazing opportunities it provides. I love to use them as well. However, use of these sites has some risks, because they have the potential to expose our personal information throughout the digital world, making our private lives public. I felt compelled to share some of my concerns.

            Usually there are no fees involved to use social networking sites. The only requirement is to create a membership prior to use. However, it may cost you your privacy. Some information the sites may require are full names, photos, gender, current city, hometown, date of birth, phone number, and email address. We willingly fill out the required information to gain access and use their site.  With each click, like, comment or post our digital footprint is left behind.

            In addition to the required information, we voluntarily share intimate details about our lives through our posts, status updates, photos, and blogs. We share about when and where we are going on vacation and thoughts about our relationships, religious views, political views and our careers. All of our information is collected and stored which may allow a browser search to reveal our names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, occupations, salary, hobbies, photos of our children and our homes. In order to protect our personal information, we must be proactive in our usage. 

In order to protect ourselves online, we must be aware of how we interact with others online. We should ask ourselves what parts of our lives we want to keep private. Every thought, every photo, every place we go doesn’t need to be public information. We should think before we post, clean up old posts, documents and other information about us online. We can do this by managing our friends’ lists, deleting old photos, comments and page likes.

Ultimately, it is the user’s responsibility to use discernment when sharing information online. That is where privacy settings come into play. Most social networking sites have given users privacy tools to manage their viewers. However, the default setting tends to be public. If users don’t activate privacy settings their information is available to the public. Users should modify their preferences, update privacy settings, and use discernment when submitting comments and posts.

Although, social networking sites allow users to communicate with others throughout the world, they also allow our private information to become available to the public. In order to reduce personal information exposure online, social networking site users need to be cognizant of the information they share and who is viewing it. Our private lives don’t have to become completely public.

I believe this will be helpful when creating a PLN. Our private lives reflect in our professional lives. Our behavior in both is important.


  1. I completely agree with your assessment of social media. We have become a society that over-shares and is happy to do so. So many people now click and then think. Careers have already been destroyed in our society by inappropriate use of social media. Individuals also do not understand that once something is on the Internet, it never goes away. I've personally tried explaining to new parents, that they may not want to post the bath time pictures of their children online. Yes, the children are young now, but those photos will be there forever. So 20 years from now when they're trying to start a career, those photos could surface and could be devastating. Social media and the Internet forces us to not only think about how our actions will impact our lives now, but also how they could years from now. We see PSA's about so many different topics; I wish this would be a chosen topic. It may seem silly, but as you point out, it truly isn't. We are the keepers of our information, and only we can protect it. Once it is out of our hands, its use is out of our control.

  2. This is a timely and important subject. It is surly something we need to be aware of when using technology. In building a PLN it is easy to give information on a widespread basis. Your post demonstrates this is an issue that when we teach technologies we must be abreast of. I would suggest we work this discussion into our curriculum.

  3. This is the most scary thing about technology. The lack of knowledge about the complexity that makes it, made most people ignorant in how to deal with it. There are some websites that offer their customers the capability to enjoy their services without being afraid of losing your own privacy. Where many other websites are untestable with any information. I would really like to read more about solutions on how to gain your privacy even in untrusted websites.

  4. This is a very important topic! And perhaps as Cindy suggested it could evolve into a section on our wiki - great topic for some extra credit. It is vital that we do inform ourselves of the "small print" when using various online tools and resources.

  5. Very nice blog update good information about Social Networking and Privacy,i completely agree with you.