Social Media and Personal Privacy – Part 1

Any discussion of personal privacy in the digital era must address the role of social media in our lives. Many of us use social media networks and apps for professional networking, keeping in touch with friends and family, following current events, entertainment, or even marketing.

By now, most of us are also aware that these websites and apps collect, analyze, and sell our information. Depending on the service, this data is “anonymized” at an individual level, aggregated for insights and targeted marketing, or sold to third parties with your complete personal identity intact.

You probably also know that nearly 50% of employers screen candidates’ social media presence to determine eligibility. Did you also know that not having a presence at all can hurt as much as having active social media profiles with undesirable content?

Harris Poll conducted research on behalf of CareerBuilder.com and found, “… one third (33 percent) of employers who research candidates on social networking sites say they’ve found content that made them more likely to hire a candidate. What’s more, nearly a quarter (23 percent) found content that directly led to them hiring the candidate, up from 19 percent last year.” You can read more about that here.

A positive social media presence is also very useful for established and aspiring entertainers, politicians, social activists, and others who necessarily find themselves in the public eye. Personally, I’ve built valuable relationships and reconnected with colleagues through LinkedIn.

By now it should be clear that I’m not here to scare you off Facebook. Many privacy advocates would like to kill the Social Media monster with fire, but it’s too late. The cat is out of the bag. So, where does this leave us?

Like all technology, social media is a force multiplier. Using it safely, efficiently, and effectively is a learning process and requires a degree of strategy. You need to decide what you want to communicate, assume everyone can see your content regardless of privacy settings, and keep the rest off the internet.

Benjamin Franklin is often quoted, “Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.” This is something to keep in mind when you share that post about your travel plans, frustrating day at work, or brand new car. Social media is a wonderful tool; just remember that you have no real privacy when using these websites and apps, even in the private messaging features.

Now that we’ve acknowledged the benefits of social media, we can explore the impact on your physical and financial security. The next posts in this series will discuss specific threats and opportunities social media technology presents. I’ll delve into relevant case studies to show you how criminals use your content against you. You’ll also learn how to craft an online presence for increased privacy by defying conventional ideas of anonymity.

Would you like to know how we can assist you with a privacy assessment? Perhaps you have questions that require discretion? Please feel free to contact us at any time.

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