My colleague Bob Sutor expresses some of the thoughts and concerns that I've been having since starting to use Facebook three months ago:

The basic problem is who gets to know what about me. Short of someone doing something illegal and stealing, say, confidential payroll information, I'm talking about the information that is out there on the web that comes from my explicit placement of personal data or by observations of my activities. ...

The problem with Facebook is that I think people get on it and get all excited by the connections you can make with other people, the groups you can join, and the applications you can install. This is about social networking, after all, and the value of the network goes up when you are connected to more people in more ways. ....

What this means, I think, is that you really need to think twice about quickly signing up for networks, groups and applications in social networking sites without thinking through the implications. By all means, do join up for them if you conclude it's within your comfort level. Do Twitter if you want people to see and possibly use that information. (If I watched your Twitter "tweets" for a week, what could I learn about you?) ...

I think social networks like Facebook are quite valuable and can be kept within reasonable risk levels, but this does not come for free. You need to work at building up your network of "friends" but you also have to work at being particular about the details you expose. You need to understand the information can be used in an aggregate. That is, while one little piece of data might seem harmless, what will it imply or allow when combined with all the rest of the pieces that are out there?
I've posted some comments on Bob's site in response.  It's a follow-up to my initial posting on this topic, which was an optimistic-if-na├»ve intent to set my own policy on social networking.  I think this is an area we need to continue to monitor.

Link: Bob Sutor: Social networking and privacy > (Thanks, Facebook status updates)

Post a Comment