More than likely anybody reading this right now can remember the Facebook Privacy fiasco that was all over the news a couple of months ago. 500 million users all up in arms that Facebook, the free social networking service they signed up for under their own free will, wasn’t securing each and every bit of data they submitted with a force equal to that of Fort Knox. Now, as if nobody could have expected it, Google+ is facing some of those same criticisms.
Everytime I see a post on one social network or another regarding “breach of privacy” I wonder if the user has ever read the Terms of Service. Of course they didn’t read the Terms of Service! Nobody does, why would we? Social networking is cool, and of course we all want to be cool so we’ll agree to whatever they want just so that we can “poke” that person who sat in front of us in Biology freshman year. But if you would take the time to read these terms you would find something amazing in them. There is one person, in all of these networks, who is responsible for all of your information. You. You are the only person who can really control what information these companies can share about you. If you never post it to the site you never have to worry about where it goes.
I realize that is the simplest way of looking at the situation but in essence that is what it boils down to. You joined a social network to socialize with people, of course to make that happen those people should be able to find you and you should be able to find them. To make that possible some of your information has to be public. The point I’m trying to get across is that I believe if you get your identity stolen from information you shared on Facebook, you’re a fool to blame Facebook. Nobody is having their identity stolen because a thief was able to find their first and last name and gender on a social network. It doesn’t take long to read through the privacy settings and if you can’t comprehend what those settings mean, there is surely a help page that will explain it to you.
Finally if you’re so paranoid about being found because of information shared on your social networks, don’t join the social networks! But if you do decide to follow the masses and join a social network just be smart. Read the Terms of Service, at least the part about your privacy and shared information. Take the time to go over your own privacy settings making sure only the things you want shared are shared. And of course don’t buy into all of the hype produced by the media. Educate yourself, only post what you’re comfortable sharing with the world, and of course stay away from all of those obviously terrible spam links that your friends share! I mean ismycreditcardstolen.com! Really people? Just wise up and you’ll be just fine.