Usually, I don’t get too freaked out by social media sharing. I keep my Facebook profile set to “friends only.” I don’t have any friends on Foursquare or Gowalla and only use it for things like finding people at conferences. I’m careful about what I say on Twitter, especially in terms of my location. I figure, if some creepo out there really wants to find me, they’re going to find me whether I’m even more careful online or not.
Woah. That’s seriously scarey, right? It’s a good reminder for all of us to be diligent with privacy settings and think before we post or allow apps access to our profiles. After all, even if you have your privacy settings pretty tight, you don’t know who is behind those Facebook apps you’re using. It’s relatively easily to create an app and people don’t think twice about allowing access.
Little know fact: before I got into writing and new media, I was a research assistant for my college’s Institutional Advancement and Development office. Basically, that’s the office that helps raise money for the school through donations from alumni, parents, and community members. As a research assistant, my job was to find as much information possible about potential donors so that staff could know how to best reach out to them and convince them to donate. I liked to say that I was a “professional stalker.” This was back in 2004 – 2006, and even then, you would be amazed at the stuff I could find online about people – everything from home values (with addresses) to favorite hobbies to social security numbers. YES – social security numbers. And like I said, this was several years ago. Imagine all the new stuff online now.
Please don’t stop using social media sites. They can be fantastic tools for not only marketing your blog or business, but also connecting with awesome people from around the world. Just think before you post. There are some bad apples out there and you don’t want to put yourself or your family at risk.