Facebook and Privacy – is this REALLY a big deal?

being of two mindsI’ve seen lots of posts on Facebook privacy issues the last couple of days, some taking about sharing, some about privacy, some just confused about the whole thing. Me? I’m of two minds about Facebook and privacy.

So I ask – is the privacy you [think you] have on Facebook REALLY that big of a deal?

On the one hand, of course it is. They should at least TELL you they’re going to do something before doing it. And they should let you opt in, rather than forcing you to opt out.

We are, after all, their bread and butter – no people, no Facebook.

On the other hand …. what are you trying to keep private on Facebook, when it comes down to it? Let’s take a peek at what you can share [or not] in Facebook:

First, there’s the “update me with your stuff” things, like status updates, new photos, and new videos:

  • If you want those to be private, you shouldn’t post them. Period.
  • Hello! Nothing’s private on the web. Even on Facebook.
  • If you want to share a status update with just some people, you can do that. Which is more than Twitter gives you.

Basic info, like:

  • Name: um … don’t open a Facebook account if you don’t want to share your name.
  • Gender: That’s rather apparent, isn’t it? Is it bad that you know I’m a guy?
  • Birthday: Hmm. I don’t really care. Should I?
  • Relationship Status: OK – so I have a recently divorced friend, and it was rather painful to watch his relationship status go from married to single to it’s complicated … back to single, etc. Maybe a case of sharing too much info, rather than one of privacy. So if your life’s on a rolloercoaster ride … don’t fill that one out.
  • Current city: big whoop. Google already knows this.
  • Hometown: That’s sort of important when connecting with past schoolmates.
  • Religious and Political views: I have em. So does everyone else.

Work and education:

  • Seeing that I have my resume online and brag about what my library does all the time, this obviously doesn’t bother me.

Likes and interests: stuff like music, movies, etc.

  • Oh man. You’ll find out that I like U2, Fountains of Wayne, and a weird, old-school christian alternative group (Daniel Amos Band). Will my life be ruined if you find this out? Nope. Will yours? I’m guessing not.

Contact info: So … the whole POINT with Facebook is to connect with people …

  • email: already published in many places online, including my website.
  • Mobile phone number: Not had a problem yet.
  • AIM, GTalk, etc IM: Already out there
  • Website URL: I want that shared.

Your friends list:

  • Is it bad that you know who I’ve friended? I don’t really think so. Then again, I’ll probably friend you if you ask, just for kicks.

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Ok. It really doesn’t bother me that you know some or all of this stuff. At the same time, I DO know how to hide certain things – for example, most of my contact info is only available to Friends (as in people who friend me).

But – isn’t all this sorta beside the point? My basic contact info is already scattered all over the web. In fact, it was BEFORE I even had a Facebook account. My resume’s online. These days, I tweet, flickr, and Youtube you guys like crazy. So if you really want to know more about me, you can – with or without Facebook.

Want to talk about privacy? How about that credit card all of us plunk down in front of lots of 20-year old strangers every day at the mall or Walmart or a restaurant? Besides the kiddo who now has access to your credit card (not that anything’s ever happened to my credit card yet), every time you swipe, that company finds out more about you. Or how about your cell phone – your phone company knows where you are. Or Google? All those searches you just did? Yep. Google knows you.

Facebook and my taste in bands or what I said in a little text box? Not really on my radar.

How about you?