Privacy: Play It Smart or Just Don’t Play

Privacy has become a major talking point when the considering the sudden rise in social media over the past few years. With so many websites aggregating blogs, microblogs, and social media sites, it is hard to say anything on the web without being heard by many.  Unfortunately, the individuals reading and listening to your contributions to the web may not always be whom you intended.

The issue here does not stem from a flaw in privacy on the web, but from the naïve notions of the privacy that individuals believe exist in their own lives.

Generally, even when we are in public, most of us feel a sense of privacy depending on our familiarity with our current surroundings. When at a place of work, study, worship, etc., people have a tendency to feel comfortable and relaxed about their personal privacy, letting down their guard and often times partaking in activities that they may not otherwise participate if they were in unknown surroundings.

For example, if I were to quietly sing along to my iPod at my work desk, or while taking a walk around my neighborhood, I would feel comfortable doing so because I know my coworkers and neighbors well enough that I trust they won’t videotape my possible embarrassing act and put it up on YouTube.

However, if I were at a diner with a bunch of strangers, or on at a park with many people around, I would probably refrain from serenading everyone around me with my mediocre rendition of “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon. Not only could this be deemed as socially inappropriate, but without the comfort of knowing and trusting the people around me, I probably wouldn’t trust that my singing outburst could easily go unnoticed.

When it comes to the web, the extent of our naivety of privacy grows by leaps and bounds. Since most of us participate in social media activities from the comfort of our own homes, we unknowingly transfer that feeling of privacy into what we are doing on the web. This can lead to dangerous results when you realize that the web contains exponentially more peering eyes than does a diner of a park.

Think of the examples we have seen where social media blunders have lost individuals their jobs. Everyone has heard of the office employee that complained about his boss on Facebook, only to be, in turn, fired over his Facebook wall. Additionally, the pictures, language, and overall presence we create for ourselves is always subject to analysis, by anyone from our neighbor to our CEO.

The key to keeping yourself out of trouble on the web is not to refrain from social media sites all together, but to just be smart about what information you put out there.  Realizing who may be watching could save you some unwanted embarrassment or repercussions in the future.

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~ by dparsonsmedia on March 6, 2010.

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