Monday, September 12, 2011

Online Privacy Is An Oxymoron

privacy If you want privacy, stay off of social networking sites. (Now you don't have to read the rest of this blog, unless of course you are curious.)

Here's where social networking can come back and bite you in the ass without you (or me) even knowing about it!

I happen to be signed up with LinkedIn, Spacebook and Twitter.  I like to reserve LinkedIn for its intended purpose (professionals hooking up with other professionals), while using Spacebook and Twitter as my playground or sandbox to say whatever the fuck I like.

After all, I am self-employed and it's not healthy living in a closet of any kind.  No, I am not going to tell folks on social network sites what I ate for breakfast or how bad my sex life is, but if I think of something funny, I have no problems putting it up on Twitter and/or Spacebook, no matter how crude. (And you thought Beavis and Butt-head and the South Park gang were the only ones with "potty mouth syndrome"!)

I just learned that the viewing of "My Activity" on LinkedIn appears to have a default setting of "ALL CONNECTIONS," which I had no clue until I heard from a friend of mine who happens to be a professional in the real estate industry (no, not my FB friend A.J., but someone else).

For convenience, I have my Twitter linked with Spacebook so that friends of mine on Spacebook who are NOT also signed up with Twitter can see my posts on Spacebook.  I like to use Twitter to post my one-liners.

So I posted a tweet in late July that read, "Weird that I keep getting emails about how I can make my penis bigger. Don't these people already know that I am a real big dick?"

I had no clue at the time that those feeds were also ending up on LinkedIn, which is set up for  professional social networking, not really a place to goof around.  All of my connections who wanted to could see the post in question.

My good friend, who was one of my connections on LinkedIn, decided to comment on the penis post from within the LinkedIn site.  She simply wrote, "I get the SAME emails. What a hoot!"  She was unaware that by doing that, ALL of her LinkedIn connections (many of whom are professionals within the real estate industry) would see her comment AND my original Twitter/Facebook post.

I had no clue either, and wasn't real thrilled to learn about all this after the fact.  I have since changed my LinkedIn settings so that "My Activity" on social networking sites is seen "ONLY BY ME."

About one week after my penis post, my real estate friend emailed me and told me she would have to unfriend me on Spacebook and that she was actually "cancelling" her LinkedIn account as a result of all this.

Her e-mail to me said, in part:
"When you remarked about the ads for p---- enlargements and I responded that I get the same ads, it showed up on Facebook, LinkedIn, and EVERYONE I'm connected with . . . One of the agents mentioned it after our office meeting today, while there were still plenty of agents standing around . . . ."

I thought to myself, "Holy crap, Batman, how does this shit happen?"  Well, now we know.

Bottom line:  If you have a sensitive job (pole dancing, for example), are cheating on your spouse/lover, doing one thing when you told someone you are really doing something else, it just might end up in cyberspace.

If you want privacy (which really no longer exists), keep a low profile and stay off of ALL social networking sites. Or if you do go on those sites, just stay in the closet (which isn't a whole heck of a lot of fun).

Perhaps Spacebook founder Mark Zuckerdoodah was right when he talked about the issue of privacy in 2010.  I was critical of him then, but now I totally get it: what privacy?