I am appalled at the recent attacks on our privacy rights. From the Cincinnati divorced dad who spoke out against his wife’s actions on Facebook in “Friends” mode with the ex blocked from seeing any of his Facebook actions and was later court-ordered to publicly apologize for a month on his Wall or go to jail to the recent reports of companies who are requiring recruits to hand over their social network logins and passwords. As many know, I am a huge proponent for reputation management and teaching social networking users that anything they put out there may become fodder for the world despite iron clad privacy settings. Despite having squeaky clean content, I believe that NO ONE has the right to demand or seize access to my content without my permission.
A company doesn’t have the right to look at the portions of my Facebook profile that are not accessible via public view. They should not have access to photos of my children, family relationships, statements on my Wall made by friends or family members or my “private” thoughts. I listened to Mark Byron, who will probably go down in history as “The Facebook Dad”, being interviewed on WLW radio yesterday as he shared the full story of what transpired in his case. You can read his story here. Mark concludes the interview by stating that in his estimation, the issue is that the magistrate handling the case lacked an understanding of just how Facebook works.
My company, C3. Creating Connections Consulting, LLC provides social media training for area businesses and organizations, and I intimately know the inner workings of social networking sites like Facebook. It is because of this professional knowledge, that I have created reputation management and social networking safety programs for area colleges, high schools and parenting groups. What I have found over the years, is that many people do not have a full understanding of how these platforms work, how to adjust privacy settings or even that some of the applications that they integrate into their social networking site (i.e Farmville, Zynga games, contests, etc.) retain access to their private information regardless of their privacy settings.
Facebook changes constantly and at times seemingly on a whim. This makes it very difficult for the passive user or even the non-user who has responsibility for those who do (parents, teachers, etc.) to keep up with potential changes that might open up personal profile information to the public. We are not living in a world where once something has been downloaded, installed, or added to our devices we can sit back and assume that it will remain the same. We need to check for changes on a regular basis (I suggest monthly) and read the TOS (Terms of Service) agreement like we are studying for our driver’s exam.
Both of these cases/stories have huge implications for privacy protection and freedom of speech in the United States.
What do you think?