Personal Privacy and the Social Web

Personal Privacy and the Social Web

Concerned about privacy online, a family friend who works in IT for a public school board gave her teenage daughter a lesson about sharing personal information on the Web. The Mom said they would assume they knew nothing about the daughter’s friend and just based on the information she had publicly posted on social media sites see what they could learn about her.  It was a shocking and eye-opening experience as they followed the digital trail to her school, to her swim team, to who her parents are and right to the front door of the girl’s home.

Brad Buset presented a session at Podcamp Toronto 2010  entitled “Defaulting Privacy: Personal information and the social web“.  Brad’s presentation about digital privacy helped shed some light on shifting privacy norms and all those little choices online citizens make every day.

Some good points Brad made in this session:

  • Do a Google search for your name to see what shows up on page one.  What do you want to put out there? Are you managing your online reputation well?
  • Are the answers to your security questions secure?  Could someone find the answer by searching online?
  • We need increased education. Brad suggests introducing every kid to the novel 1984 by George Orwell to open their eyes.
  • Social Networks have made a shift from default private to default public. Review and set your social networking privacy options.

Brad talked about Please Rob Me. The creators of Please Rob Me want to raise awareness of the privacy issues surrounding location-based services like Foursquare. Like our friend showing her teenage daughter the dangers of sharing too much, Please Rob Me is trying to shock people into understanding the vulnerabilities of not protecting their privacy. They explain on their website:

The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you’re definitely not… home. So here we are; on one end we’re leaving lights on when we’re going on a holiday, and on the other we’re telling everybody on the internet we’re not home.

Online Privacy Protection

All of us, regardless of age need to ask ourselves questions about personal privacy and the social web.

  • How do you decide what you share online?
  • Why are you sharing this information? What is your goal?
  • Look at the Networks you use; have you set your privacy controls?
  • How does what you share impact your company’s or your own personal brand?

I think it is really important that we discuss this issue and educate those around us.  Please add to the discussion by adding your comments to this post.

2 thoughts on “Personal Privacy and the Social Web


  1. The lack of privacy that's taking over through social media like Facebook, Google, and blogs could kill same.While it's true that the only way to ensure social network privacy is not to use social networks, there are still millions of people like me who flock to them every day for one reason or another.


  2. Nice informative article. I have to say that I have totally agree with you in the way that as the social web opens more and more, privacy becomes less and less a priority.

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