Archive for the ‘Social media’ Category

Go to your Facebook page and take a screen-shot. Paste that into a Word document or Paint program. Now cover up the names and pictures and project the result up on the wall. What does it say about you? Would your friends recognize you? Your parents? Yourself?

Howard Rheingold, a social-media professor at Stanford University, runs this experiment with his class. It’s surprising – and a bit frightening – what you see about yourself in this way. As one of his students put it, Facebook tacitly encourages you to describe yourself in headlines. Snippets, soundbites and stereotypes. You list a specific interest but since readers only see the subset of things you list, they make assumptions based on that first impression. Many people who take a neutral look at their profile discover that it presents a very shallow image.

Worse, they find that it rarely presents an image of responsibility and trustworthiness. When so many employers include Facebook in their background checks, it’s an image that can really limit your options later on.

Facebook does have some privacy settings that can minimize the damage but only if you take the time to set it right and even then if you’re lucky enough to set them right now for the privacy settings you’ll need in 5 or 10 years. The better answer is to control what you post and what you allow others to post about you. If there’s something embarrassing, take it down.

The other thing to remember is that Facebook will probably not be the last word in social media. New programs will come out and hopefully they’ll take a stronger approach to privacy and foresight. In the meantime, be cautious about what you post in any social media. Be a little paranoid. Watch out for yourself.