Wednesday, January 06, 2010

What? You're 23 and You're Not On FaceBook?

While working out tonight, I was chatting with my trainer who is 23 years old. He recently graduated college and is working as a personal fitness trainer while he endures the application process of the Central Intelligence Agency. I told him that it's my son's 20th birthday today and he suddenly remembered that today is also his best friend's birthday. I asked him how, in today's day, he could forget anyone's birthday. After all, we have FaceBook to thank for our weekly birthday reminders, don't we? What he said next really surprised me.

He told me he doesn't have a FaceBook account. He deleted it because of his application to work for the CIA. How very mature of him, I thought. Yet, I couldn't resist asking why he doesn't just keep the FB account and post items that reflect positively on himself. You know, "use it for good, not evil." He hadn't really considered doing that and at that point I was clearly stalling for more time to rest between sets and he knew it, so we moved on.

But I'm still thinking about it...

Even if he kept his FB account and posted positively AND kept everything else private, with the new FB privacy changes, his profile picture, friends list and fan pages are all still public. He can control what he posts, but not what his friends post. How might that affect his job prospects? How might that affect anyone's?


Anonymous said...

Privacy-issues are the reason why I deleted my Facebook account.

Lee Kolbert said...

What about privacy concerned you? I'm curious.

Unknown said...

As a teacher I've been dealing with privacy issues long before FB---and have resigned to the fact that it's near impossible to keep my private life totally private.

Before FB: students knew my name and could look me up in the phone book and find out where I lived. I keep copies of old news magazines in my room for students in study to read if they have no other work to family members'/friends' names and address were on the labels. My picture is in the yearbook, so even students I don't have in class know who I am and have "heard things" about me. My salary is public knowledge as well. I just don't see what anyone could learn from my FB that is not already well-known.

I have <200 friends....I know them all fairly well irl---even if they are old friends from HS or college and I haven't seen them in years, they are people that I still trust. Most of my FB friends were sent Christmas cards.

There are much scarier things than FB-----2 teachers at my school were secretly videotaped in less than flattering classroom situations (for totally understandable reasons irl that did not come across on film) and the tape was posted on YouTube with rude comments. Students got in trouble, video was taken down, but damage was done.

The crazy thing for me now is that my son is FB friends with many of my students.....I did readjust my settings to make them stricter when that started happening. I do try to teach my students--and my own children---about internet safety and show them ways that errant comments can come back to haunt you. A student at a HS a few miles away was just arrested for rape -- the main evidence against him was Twitter posts.

Tom DeRosa said...

He can control what his friends post to a degree--at least any connection to him. For example, if a friend posts a picture of him and tags him, he can set it that only he can see it (along with many other options).

You can disallow public search and Facebook search results if you like. You can even disallow your friends from posting on your wall!

It's ridiculous that teachers can't have social networking profiles and, by extension, a life outside of work. While we are in public service and thus subject to more scrutiny, that shouldn't mean we can't even have a FB.

That being said, even with the account deleted, the CIA will certainly be able to track down what *was* posted on there!

Lee Kolbert said...

@Mary Lou
You bring up some very good points about our information being available in ways we just take for granted. It is true that it's near impossible to keep anything private; however it's still a good idea to make some serious attempts. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

@Mr. D.
You can control certain things yes, but there's some false sense of security and a lot of misinformation about what you can do and how to do it, especially since FB adjusted their privacy settings. Your point about not allowing your friends to see tagged photos of you is well taken but that doesn't stop them from actually seeing the photos as you state. I can still "stumble upon" the photo via someone else's post, say a friend of yours who is also a friend of mine. The only thing you have prevented is me seeing that you've been tagged in it. Thanks for commenting!

kw said...

My mom is my friend on my FB. That pretty much keeps my life in control. :o)

Great thoughts and comments!

Anonymous said...
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Sue said...

People can post photos and information about you, and you can be tagged in a photo, even if you're not on FB. It seems to me that you have at least a little control if you're a member of FB and know what's going on. When you're tagged you know about it. You can control some of what is seen by using the privacy settings.

Lee Kolbert said...

Hi Sue!!
You bring up a very good point that being a user does keep you in the loop. People can identify you in photos but you won't be notified if you're not part of the grid. Thanks for your comment and thanks for visiting my blog! :)

Dad said...

The new privacy settings do allow very granular control especially for photos. I have photos that only friends can view and not friends of friends. The problems is not that Facebook security is not providing enough privacy it is that people don't want to go in and make the changes. Facebook also bears a certain amount of the blame by setting privacy defaults to everyone.
As for your friend trying to join the CIA, whatever he has done they will find deleted account or not. Once something is posted online it is very hard to take it back or get it taken down. They also go back about 100 pages into the search the results. If you have the time try going back even 10 or 20 pages in the results for your own name and see what you find.

Kim said...

Okay. Imagine the world as it is today, walking down a sidewalk, waving "hello" to passers-by.... Now, imagine this same world, except ONLINE. This is the future. When you are walking down that sidewalk, did you put a bag over your head to protect your privacy?

Lee Kolbert said...

Fascinating analogy. Thanks!

Danielle Abernethy said...

I have a friend who just joined the FBI as a supervisor. The first day of class they were told that if they had a Twitter, Facebook, My Space or any other networking account, they needed to delete it. Personal safety was number one, especially when you are in the FBI or CIA and you have to work with dangerous criminals. You don't want them to know who your friends are, what your family members are doing and such. The issue of privacy settings were discussed, but the bottom line was that none of those were secure and to delete the account.
Then there's the teacher in Georgia who was fired because pictures of her holding an alcoholic beverage on Facebook. Everything was set to private, but somehow, someone still saw the photos.
There are many reasons why businesses require you to step out of the social networking limelight. Some, such as the FBI reasons, I agree with. For the teachers, if her account is private and she is selective with WHO she shares with, I don't see a problem.