Being smart about SNS privacy

Our LART 698 social media in higher education class, which has discussed privacy controls and preferences this past week, opens a bit of a philosophical question. There are two types of people on Facebook — those who control their privacy and those who do not. There appear to be two subsets of people who control their privacy — those with something to hide, and those who wish to actively manage all aspects of their online identity. There also appear to be two subsets of those who do not control their privacy — those who want promote all aspects of their lives and those who filter themselves at the keyboard, rendering the need for detailed privacy settings moot.

Of those four settings, I would argue the most practical approach is to filter one’s self at the keyboard. It’s the equivalent of “if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all” or “it’s better to remain quiet and be thought of a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt” or whatever axiom of discretion you prefer.

From a personal standpoint, I would also tend to think those who operate this way are probably the smartest, and those who rely on controlling their privacy settings are the least smart. Controlling your privacy settings in hopes of containing the message is akin to saying something to one person (your friends, perhaps) and hoping someone else (a professor, parent, or boss) never finds out. You might be able to trust one of your friends in a conversation, but good luck trusting the 100 or 1,000 of them in your network, particularly if you have people in your network who are linked in with others you need to protect yourself from. Like a sibling and a parent, for example.

It brings me back to another axiom of discretion: “Just because you can say something doesn’t mean you should.”

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

About Ben Brigandi

I'm the sports editor at the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, and I live in South Williamsport with my wife and daughter. Born and raised in State College, and earned my bachelor's at Penn State. This class is my final one before beginning the capstone.