AIYIEEE! Timeline is Comin’!
Folks are getting a bit worked up about the rolling out of the ‘mandatory’ Timeline feature on Facebook. Of course part of this is the ol’ “who moved my cheese’ phenomenon. Some folks have a hard time with change and sort of struggle with learning how to use an online medium like this super popular social network. People who didn’t grow up with this stuff can get a little intimidated by it.
Regardless of your familiarity with online interaction what we all have to remember is that – privacy settings aside – what we post online is potentially public information.
What we post online is potentially public information.
So even though your Agreement with Facebook (did you read it?) might indicate that how you select your privacy settings will ultimately control exactly who you allow to see what you post – there’s nothing to say Facebook won’t come back later and make changes to how these settings work. Which they have done and are doing.
Assume what you post is viewable to the general public at all times and post accordingly. It might not be today — but permissions might change and what you thought was viewable to only your sorority sisters might be accessible to your grandmother down the road, or your potential employer, or your kids.
If you want to post freely, cloak your identity. Create an alter ego and post your secret stuff with that if you must. It’s not like there are aren’t millions of such accounts on Facebook already. Me, I don’t want to have to work that hard for my personal posts – so I just figure every single thing I post can be seen by the public – even though my settings are limited to friends or friends of friends.
I do have a snarky streak – so I invented a persona for my mini horse and created a Facebook Page for him where I do a little venting and get stuff that bugs me off my chest under his good name (sorry io). But my acquaintances on Facebook who expound their political agendas for all the world to see on their profiles might not be doing themselves any favors with those rants. It could swing some perceptions off kilter for them and eliminate opportunities. Especially if they have professional exposure of any kind through the same name they’re using on Facebook. Not everyone cares about such stuff. Some are quite content to wear their agendas on their sleeve so to speak. Heck they build fabulous careers out of doing so! Not everyone. Many of us don’t like our politics to get in the way of the rest of our lives – both in practice and in print.
So keep in mind this is your choice! You can choose to limit and control every single piece of information about you on Facebook in four easy ways:
- by paying attention to what you post in the first place,
- deleting your account or posts and photos you don’t want to have available
- setting up a new account that you’re more careful with,
- or creating a whole separate self that can’t exactly be traced back to you
That said, you can’t limit everything your friends and family post about you – though you are able to untag photos and posts they’ve tagged you in, and block certain people and the like. It behooves you to connect only with trustworthy people, and pay attention to what they post. Assume all this stuff is public!