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Facebook Privacy Issues: Why Do People Continue To Be Naive About Facebook Privacy
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I resisted using Facebook for a long time. It wasn’t that I had anything against Facebook, using it just didn’t appeal. I like writing letters (old fashioned I know), I love chatting to my friends on the phone or skyping, or as a last resort I’ll send an email. I didn’t like the thought of getting in touch with people that I’d long since forgotten and I thought it strange that I might have a conversation with someone I don’t know.

However, when I setting up my own business I decided whether I like it or not I would have to embrace Facebook and I do have an account and several facebook pages showcasing different work I’m involved in. However, I have to admit that I still haven’t come to grips with it fully.

Long before I signed up to Facebook a very dear friend sent me a link inviting me to become 'her friend'. At the time I had no intention of having an account and sent her an email explaining that I would never link with her. I explained that I knew my employer at the time regularly spied on activities of employees using facebook and I was worried that I really didn’t know much about their privacy issues.

Not wanting to ever be tempted into saying the wrong thing I decided not to put myself at risk. Even now, it’s not a medium that I’m entirely comfortable with. I know there are no photographs out there of me behaving badly, but despite privacy settings that facebook are constantly updating, you still can’t control what other people do.

The wariness that I feel about Facebook clearly is not shared by everyone if recent press is anything to go by. There are plenty of people who appear to use Facebook with abandon using it to talk about what they’re up to at work and intimate details of their social lives.

Yes I know it’s social media and chatting is what it’s all about but why do so many people remain naive about Facebook privacy issues? There seem to have been a spate of stories about indiscreet disclosures on Facebook from policeman, teachers, students. city executives and other workers from both the private and public sectors, criticising their employers or boasting about their sexual encounters or drug taking.

When information is sent whizzing round the internet for all to see, people always say “ But it was private. I only shared it with my friends”. Well good for you. You might have thought very carefully about your privacy settings and you only wanted to share information with your closest friends. The problem is that friends or relatives can then share that information with other people and like a ripple effect it can go out to an ever wider audience.

Some people say that their private views even if they are about work should remain exactly that - private. They suggest that it’s no different from being down the pub with a group of mates. No it isn’t. It’s nothing like that. Facebook is a great tool for sharing information, finding things out, learning something new but everyone needs to be savvy about using it.

An every increasing number of employers are now regularly trawling through the pages of Facebook looking for details of prospective interview candidates. You might have thought that the photo of falling out of a club slightly worse for wear was very amusing when you were on holiday but do you really want that to be shared with prospective employers? People are now being rejected as a candidate on the basis of information found on Facebook and a small minority have lost their jobs because of being indiscreet and breaking their company’s code of conduct.

Facebook gives people a wonderful opportunity to have a voice in a way they might never have anywhere else. I would never say don’t use Facebook. I just say don’t be naive about Facebook privacy issues and take the following precautions.

  • Make sure you read the guidelines Facebook has on privacy issues
  • Read your organisations social media or IT policy for staff (if one exists)
  • Don’t use Facebook as a tool to moan about your employers, however, incensed your are.
  • Don’t use Facebook to make malicious remarks about colleagues. You don’t want to find yourself facing an accusation of online bullying or harassment.
  • Choose your Facebook friends wisely
  • Be aware of the words you use. Remember this is not a conversation like the pub. Be as careful with these written words as you might be with the spoken words you use at work
  • Think about the photos you post. If a friend has posted a picture you’re unhappy with – ask them to remove it.
  • Don’t post any negative comments on other people’s walls.

The use of Facebook across the globe is not going to go away. Experts agree that its outstanding rates of growth will continue for some time to come, so use it with care and if you’re already signed up, check your Facebook settings.


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