Written by Joan Stevenson—
Call this a paranoid rant, but what would you say if I told you that your every movement in your social media world was being watched, tracked, and reported to your friends; what you watched, what you liked, what music you are listening to, where you go, what you buy, and more. It’s strange hearing this up front, but you agree to this every day if you have a Facebook account. Even though we realize this, we still continue sharing our lives. I have had a Facebook account since 2008 and I admit I haven’t changed my account settings that much since I joined. A recent discussion with a family member has prompted me to make some changes to my profile. Facebook used to be so simple, but now is so complicated. Facebook has been making changes constantly to help guard your privacy, but the more and more these changes come, the more complicated things become in trying to set them up. Even though you can somewhat tailor privacy settings to your liking, your friends can completely track your life and activities.
Facebook totally tells on you:
Are you working? No, you’re playing Candy Crush Saga. Are you at home? No, you’ve just checked in at Starbucks. A quick look on Facebook can tell who you’re with, what city you’re in, what TV shows and movies you’re watching or planning to watch, which causes you support, what websites you visit, what news articles you read, which music you’re listening to, and when you’re listening to it.
There’s sharing and then there’s sharing, right? I’m thinking: Do I really want to know all that information about my friends or their friends of friends? (And, yes, you do get residual information that bleeds in from friends of friends). The primary offender and major annoyance to me is the ticker that runs in the upper right hand corner of a page. The ticker is a real time tattler to let you know what your bestie, or his or her friends or family, is up to. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to remove this except cover it by enlarging your chat list. Also, think about the apps you use – they also report and post information on your page. You can choose who sees this information, but the app will still post achievement and score information on your page. To remove it, you will have to go in manually and remove the posts from your recent activity.
I realize that there are things you can do to control Facebook involvement in how much you share, but because this is a social network, you do have to share some of your life. I get that, but I’m still reeling at the amount of that sharing. Facebook makes stalking so easy. Your life is literally an open (Face) book. The bottom line is that if you’re trying to keep anything on the down low stay, off of Facebook entirely! If you get tagged in a photo, and that photo was taken at a time or in a place you denied being in (for what ever reason), oops! You’re busted! But now there are ways to change this information or possibly eliminate the photo or tag entirely. If George Orwell were alive today he would be screaming, “I told you so!”
Not only can your friends see your activity, but also prospective employers as well. This is a major peeve to me. What you do in your personal life should not have any bearing on your professional life, but if you choose to share that information with the community, it’s no longer private. This opens the debate about freedom of expression and how personal expression can lead to unexpected consequences. If you’re really curious as to the degree of sharing going on in your profile, check into it. Control who can see what’s on your timeline. You can also request an activity log archive of all posts you have made. I am just beginning to wade through who can and cannot see what I post. It is taking some doing and I’m still trying to figure it out. It is a confusing web to untangle. You may have to go through your entire friend list and re-classify people, but it may help in the long run if you value what is left of your online privacy. Online privacy…there’s a great oxymoron.
Joan Stevenson is an entertainer, writer, and blogger in the Metro Detroit area. Find her on Facebook, her artist profile on Reverbnation.com/joanstevenson, or her blog on tumblr at houseofwonderandchaos.tumblr.com