Friday, May 14, 2010

The Easy Way to Facebook Privacy

The Easy Way out of Facebook

I grew up in a public school teacher family and the single most important fact about my dad's job was a highly public matter: the final score of the basketball game. I'm also a public employee in a town full of public employees where everyone's salary gets printed in the paper. And as a self-appointed journalist it's my "job" to find stuff out.

So I've never worried a whole lot about privacy. I've deliberately made myself easy to find on line. My first online adventures were 20 years ago, on the old ISCA BBS (any other geezers remember that?) I chose my real name as my user name because I didn't think not to, and ever since I've stuck with that, most prominently with the Deeth Blog these last 7 1/2 years.

But not everyone wants to do that. Bleeding Heartland has had a good thread going on real names vs. anonymity. I can see some of the reasons people give, but I'm most comfortable standing behind my name. That does, sometimes, mean I err on the side of caution.

My thought is anonymity should be reserved for issues of safety and security, be it physical safety and security or job safety and security. Too often, though, people use anonymity as an easy excuse to detach themselves from responsibility for hate speech. That's one reason I've decided to opt out of the cesspool of my local newspaper's online forums.

The latest focus of the privacy debate is Facebook, which for a lot of n00b users IS the internet. Recent changes in privacy settings, which presumably will make someone more money, have online privacy advocates worried. The New York Times writes: "To manage your privacy on Facebook, you will need to navigate through 50 settings with more than 170 options."

But one user has found the easy way out:
My friend wanted to get even with Facebook, in a sort of childish way. He uploaded a picture of a male genitalia as a profile picture. Harmless enough. Friends seeing his profile picture would laugh or become a bit annoyed that they have a childish friend.

So what happens when you do something like that? Facebook deletes you. They erase you from the digital earth. All pictures that he was tagged in seems to be gone (I can’t find one single picture with him on there right now). He’s no longer in my list of friends. Facebook didn’t send out a notice saying that my friend was erased. I actually found out that he was gone from Facebook when he didn’t show to the moving in party...
I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.

But now I'm worried. My normal process is to promote my posts via my Twitter, which automatically posts to my ("my"?) Facebook. But if I pass this "tip" along, will Facebook whack me?

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