Privacy is an Illusion
I don’t ever type anything on an email I would not write on the back of a postcard.”
Several years ago, before social media, I was having a conversation with a coworker about a troublesome inter-office email that got passed around, and that was her response. It describes it perfectly, especially when typing in social media (or blogs such as this), I have adopted that quote.
Electronic communications are a part of our life, but the proverbial gene is out of the bottle, we cannot go back. In many ways that it makes our life easier, BUT, anything and everything you put out there is out there for good. Even if you live an boring and uneventful life, those words can come back to haunt you.
Written words, especially when thumbing a short email on you device, can be misinterpreted despite how carefully you proof read, if you proofed it at all. You could (and should) redact everything you write before you punch ‘save’, or you could go completely off the grid, but many times things are out of your control.
Then there is the problem of the social trolls spewing falsehoods on the internet. But that is another story for a future blog post “Social Media: The Ugly”.
Why should I care? I live an boring and uneventful life.”
Because it is there forever, and your life may change.
Employers search the internet and social media to see what there is to know about you. When typing in this blog I stop to think what a potential employer might think about me.
You could unexpectedly be part of a viral news story, true or not, and have thousands of people looking for any dirt on you they can find. Don’t laugh, within the last few years exactly that has happened to several normal people in our small town. Sports, politics, teachers, service industry, even tour services that don’t spend time on the internet. No one is immune. It does not need to be true, it just needs to be shared, people tend to form an unbendable opinion based the first story the read.
There is at least one website out there that has a snap-shot history of website pages across the net. Years ago, one of my website clients had club members phone numbers listed publicly so other members could have easy access. The problem being the entire planet could see the phone numbers. Even though I changed it to a password protected page, there are snapshots of the public version going back to 1999!
But, I posted a privacy notice on my social media account.”
Even if that meant anything, which it does not, your posts can be copied or a screen shot can be taken. If you delete your post from the internet it still exists on the servers and in the minds of the people who read it. Even private messages can possibly be subpoenaed.
Example: A friend saw a death threat on a public Facebook Page (there is no need to log in to see a public FB page and its posts). It was directed at a person we both knew, we were able to screenshot the threat, the profile of the person who made it, and several pictures of what the offender looked like. The pics had empty booze bottles in the background and the threats were deleted within a week. I suspect the offender was drunk and had regret when she sobered up, but you just don’t know. Those threats are in proper hands, deleting it didn’t change a thing.
For a brain numbing read see Stored Communications Act
Things You Can Do
- Google, Yahoo Search, and Bing yourself, and do it often.
- Don’t post while drunk. Just no.
- Don’t let friends drunk post either.
- Don’t post pictures with illegal activity in them. #DUH
- Assume everything you type will be read out loud in court some day.
- Don’t be an asshole.
- If you type while angry, save a draft only and give yourself 24 hours to cool off. Ya, if you know me, I know you are laughing. This is something that I have learned by fire. I hope others avoid the fire by reading my blog.
Give Them Something to Read
I know a guy, who had no web presence, become part of a miss-reported news story about him and it went viral. Since he had nothing out there about himself, the only thing we can find on the internet about him is scathing.
After watching what a viral news story can do to a nice person, I have formed a personal opinion that giving people something good to read is a good alternative to hiding from the world. Since I have a large web presence I keep my websites up-to-date and public.
I believe that if there are good things on websites already in place, scathing pages would bury themselves quickly. However, I could be wrong. Make up your own mind.
Go ahead… put it on a postcard.