Facebook: love it and/or dislike it, they sure did come to the table with something that hundreds of millions of people find useful enough to incorporate into their modern lives. I am one of those people who sort of loves Facebook and dislikes it at the same time. I love it for the chance to meet up with friends from the past, have quick chats with friends and family from around the globe when I am on a crowded train, and taking a look at what my friends are up to (via Newsfeed). The dislike comes from the feeling that my 300 “friends” can secretly check up on me anytime and that if I write something on a friends wall (a big reason to use facebook over email) then certain people or groups of people can see the post that I may not be completely comfortably with seeing. Of course I can go into settings and edit it so that only certain people can see my post, but that itself takes more time than the message itself!
Matt Mckeon’s excellent graphic shows how the privacy settings have evolved from 2005 through April 2010 is more ammunition for me to question whether this a tool I should “love”. If one looks at the graphic closely, you can see how year by year more and more of our personal information is made public to more and more people. Then again, if we are all being “exposed” by the hundreds of millions on facebook, does it really matter? Doesn’t the new privacy settings provide a glut of information that most people could care to bother with?
Then again, if I was trying to shed some light on a presidential candidate like Herman Cain and I knew their was going to be some heat from his lawyers who just so happen to have millions of dollars to defend him, I would certainly worry about my Facebook settings and my online settings in general. I feel sorry for people like Sharon Bialek, a Herman Cain accuser, who has had her life dissected by the GOP Presidential Candidate’s legal team right before the eyes of the public. I can imagine in the not-so-far-away future how someone in her predicament would face a “serious online scan” by a powerful suit or two(most likely did already, must have passed!), just to check and see if she said anything outrageous online, or posted any “questionable photos”, so on and so forth. It is easy to see how privacy settings and social media will affect politics, look no further than the Anthony Weiner “sexting” scandal.
With regards to education, I do feel like the online privacy game is changing. Sites like RateMyTeacher.com are really challenging a teachers online presence, and therefore one’s online privacy. If a teacher is to combat negative reviews online (if that is a problem), then it would make sense to have to share more of oneself on a professional and/or personal blog to shed a different light. In doing so, one may have to share more (or work more!) online than one would like to, but in creating something like an “alter ego” online then a teacher protects his or herself and perhaps their careers.
The online privacy game is certainly changing. I just hope we can all persevere under the constantly changing conditions. Looking at it broadly, I hope that good can triumph over evil; a seemingly never-ending fight that seems to have made it’s way into the technological world.