I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me…

May 23, 2010

For those of us that live in a social media-driven world, we might feel like Rockwell in the 1984 hit, Somebody’s Watching Me. Between status updates on Facebook, check-ins on Foursquare and Gowalla and location-based tweets, our lives are everywhere.

It is recommended that people take certain precautions to protect themselves and their families, but sometimes we think we are just communicating with friends and it turns out our information is exposed to the public.

Facebook has recently had a slew of complaints regarding their continuously changing privacy settings. It appears that Facebook means well and is trying to add value by increasing the user experience. The problem is that they make changes to the privacy settings that are difficult for users to understand. In a recent email, Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, apologizes for mistakes that the social media giant has made. He basically cites growing pains.

I have some sympathy for Facebook. They are playing in unchartered waters and it is difficult to understand what is helpful to users and what will make the feel like they are being overexposed. Some may argue that if you are concerned about privacy, don’t place sensitive information on the internet.

I believe that in time we will come to a place where we can comfortably share information and create online relationships with a sense that our information is relatively safe. This, of course, means that users of social media need to take some responsibility by using common sense and by practicing safe social networking.

There is no clear consensus on what best practices are. Please share your thoughts on privacy and social media.