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The Facebook Era

This weeks reading on privacy in social networking sites illustrated to me
just how scary it can be to put peronsal information on myspace or
facebook. In the past, privacy issues online has always just meant
financial information, credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc.
I've never (until this weeks assignment) used a social networking site for
myself personally, I've only used a myspace account on behalf of my band. I
haven't put a whole lot of thought into what is shared on that page seeing
that it is a group and getting exposure, advertising, and personability
with anyone who might like your songs are the main focuses of my use. But
after the readings, especially the Wired article, I realize that in
creating a myspace or facebook site for yourself, you're making a
representation of yourself for use in that sphere. Any aspects of that
representation however personal or minute that you put online can stand in
your place for anyone that looks at it. I was surprised at the anecdote
given in Cornell's Thoughts on Facebook about the student who lost a chance at a job because of a post he made online. It really clearly illustrates the point that what you do online is nearly the same as what you do in real life. It also surprised me to learn that businesses will actually search online for comments made by job applicants in effort to weed out poor candidates. It seems an extreme streaming tool to me, expecting applicants to have conducted themselves like fine upstanding employees before even knowing about the job, unless he was applying for work as a fireman or an astronaut. Of course, I don't know the details of the situation, so maybe I shouldn't defend what I don't know.

Anyways, I never spent a whole lot of time thinking about what I post online, but personal information about yourself, where you go to school, work, who you hang out with, and even what you're doing at specific points of the day could be as dangerous and leaving your social security number in a blog for anyone to see. On Facebook, I noticed that they didn't spend much time telling me as a newly registered member about privacy concerns, except of course in their privacy policy. But as an internet user for all these years, I've grown accustomed to always accepting those agreements and I don't think I've ever looked at one closely. Schneier's point that Facebook owns all the data uploaded on the site really struck me. It's clear that special care must be taken when considering what you can post online.

On another note, the Google Masterplan site brought to mind this article from The Onion. "Google Announces Plan to Destroy Everything It Can't Index"


I was experiencing the same a-ha moments you were when reading the articles about privacy.

I like what you said about (on Facebook) "you're making a
representation of yourself for use in that sphere." I believe I represent myself fairly accurately on MySpace, but who I am socially is very different than professionally. So then- is my profile accurate? As humans we are so multi-faceted that competely accurate representations seem impossible.

I guess that's where the old saying 'never judge a book by its cover' comes in....'never judge a person solely by their profile.'

Good post.

That's a very good point that people have so many sides to themselves that you can't really ever make a facebook or myspace page that can encapsulate someone entirely. You wouldn't think that would ever really be in question but it seems from the story in the policy that they must think it does. I suppose that's a byproduct of all these new technologies that people are kind of forced to adjust to one way or another.