We could all learn a thing or two from Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire boy wonder behind Facebook. Whether you believe the depiction of his genius in The Social Network, the theft claims leveled in the Winklevoss’ twins multiple lawsuits, or something else entirely, the fact is the man has built an almost unstoppable juggernaut that has revolutionized the way people communicate in modern times.
I say almost unstoppable because ongoing privacy concerns are dogging Facebook, and while most people pay no attention to the details, the Federal Trade Commission has taken notice, and now Zuckerberg’s own account has fallen victim to the site’s own security flaws. Last week pictures from Zuckerberg’s personal account appeared across the web.
Shortly after the pics appeared, stories proclaiming how boring he is popped up. They show the guy hanging with his girlfriend, cooking, cuddling his new puppy and other regular everyday activities (except for meeting the President, which is absolutely not boring). While obviously tongue-in-cheek, the articles raise an interesting point that all of Facebook users should internalize right now–there’s a chance anyone can see what you have posted on the site, so give some thought to what’s there.
Zuckerberg surely knew his personal page would become public–I imagined it would have been due to hacking, but in fact it was the exploitation of one of Facebook’s own flaws that made it happen. So what, you might think–no one is going to hack my account, I’m not important enough. Fine. But what about the day your colleague you are Facebook friends with is checking out your profile pics or posts when your boss–who you aren’t friends with–walks by. Will she see you doing a keg stand (which is totally not illegal, but still) or at the beach on that day you called in sick, or feeding the homeless on weekends, or holding a chicken by the legs?
Zuckerberg doesn’t have to worry about being fired for what he posts on the thing he created and runs. But his experience here is one people can learn from. This blog wouldn’t exist if there weren’t stories day after day after day of people losing their jobs thanks to Facebook & Twitter posts. What should us regular folks who don’t own our own social networks do? Here’s a few suggestions:
- Take responsibility for your content. Acknowledging that others might not agree with or even understand your shares from your perspective is a start. It’s hard to explain context in a tweet, so if it can cause confusion, be prepared for the consequences. If the pictures do fall into the wrong hands, what will they say about you?
- Privacy is as privacy does. If you don’t take the time to actively maintain your privacy settings or even understand how they work on social networks, how upset can you be when they fail you? As the old adage goes, ignorance of the law is no defense and the concept of implied trust simply does not exist on the web.
- IT’S THE INTERNET! Realize that even with these settings in place, people can still potentially see what you post. The prevailing wisdom for many businesses engaging in social media is not to build the bulk of an online presence on a platform you don’t own and can’t control. This makes sense for people too–your brand is your person, keep it safe!
There’s a lot more to unpack here, and if the conversations I hear among family and friends are any indication, people still don’t have this down. I hope education rather than fear can help make sites like Facebook enjoyable, not a source of angst or even job loss.
What are your strategies for protecting your content? Share them in the comments below!