The show’s guests include Lori Andrews, author of I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy; Garrett Keizer, author of Privacy; Hal Niedzviecki, author of The Peep Diaries: How We’re Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors, Chuck Klosterman, author of “Through a Glass, Blindly, and filmmaker Marina Lutz, who documented a shocking discovery about her father in “The Marina Experiment.”
Narrator Jim Fleming is correct to caution listeners that “What we post online can be found by employers, schools and lawyers.”
Indiscriminate posting can certainly be harmful but so is posting nothing at all.
On Lifehacker, Adam Dachis suggests that being too private on Facebook can hurt you because “When you post nothing, everyone else decides who you are.”
“You don’t have control over what other people post about you. If you get drunk at a party and someone snaps a photo, it may end up online. Sure, you can untag yourself and try to control the possible damage from embarrassing stuff popping up, but there’s really no way to stop it all. You may not have active tags on Facebook, but that doesn’t mean that photo won't still exist and won’t show up elsewhere. When people are constantly contributing information to Facebook, as well as other parts of the web, you’re always stuck playing catch up if you’re trying to control how others talk about you.”It certainly requires vigilance to keep up with people’s tags, which are entirely too easy to make.
People have added me to political groups entirely without my consent and I had to remove myself afterward. But for the brief time I was displayed in that person’s group, anyone could have formed an impression of my political leanings. They wouldn’t know I was added involuntarily.
Another person tagged me among more than 30 people in connection with an event that I wasn’t going to nor had anyone ever spoke to me about. Again, anyone seeing me tagged in connection with that activity could form all sorts of conclusions.
On at least one occasion I was included in a Lake County blogger’s tirade; the author formed his opinions based upon my having been “invited” to an event by a particular group, not by any involvement or interest in the group or event he objected to.
People’s tagging and “invites” can skew my reputation, absent my direct input.
The solution, according to Dachis, is to publicly post what you want others to see:
“It’s fine to keep most of what you post on Facebook pretty private and only visible to the friends you want to see it. That said, if you want to look good in public you should be posting a few things that make you appear like the upstanding citizen you believe yourself to be. Share photos from fun family events, opinions about a gadget you really love or hate, and tame messages like regular birthday wishes. There are plenty of things you can share in public that don’t reveal anything private but show that you’re a good person.”Deliberately crafting an online reputation has professional benefits as well.
Janice Arenofsky, in American Libraries, Nov./Dec. 2012, advocates online “branding” as a way to stand out during a job search:
“Start by becoming active on social media sites and forums. Communicate a personal message of honesty and integrity that also underscores your strengths and goals. Because employers will google your name as a quick check on reputation, beat them to it and delete what reflects on you negatively.”The flip side to this, of course, is that preemptive public sharing may force people into a more public social-media role than they desire or feel comfortable having. Should online “branding” be for everyone?
Author’s note: Here are some of my recent expressions about Internet privacy, assembled into column-length and en route to my editor at the Lake County Record-Bee.