Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Lesson In Your Social Networking Freedom and Privacy

My mom won't blog—even though my friend's mom does—because she doesn't want her personal business all over the Internet for every Tom, Dick, and Harry to read. (It's a shame she refuses to accept that some of my favorite blogs are not about personal lives.) She's provided similar reasons regarding her reluctance to join Facebook, which is disheartening if only because her generation has adopted and welcomed social networking with such great fervency. Now that my mother has joined Facebook, I thought short list of tips and reminders might be in order.
  • You don't have to share anything you don't want to. That includes your birthday, year of birth, last name, middle name, full name, marital status, hometown, or favorite color.
  • You can even provide an alias! This is great for blogging, or any Internet-based expression. Keep in mind that if you want to share your work in your social networking profile, to maintain the identity in each site.
  • If you're serious about your alias, be sure to use it consistently. I would recommend that if you blog anonymously, to have an e-mail for that site and identity, and to use ONLY that name in anything you associate with your blog. This includes e-mail, blog, comments, etc.
  • Read the terms of service (TOS) when you sign up for a service. Every time. You should do this every time. Some services force you to agree to relinquishing your rights to your property, which includes your photographs, blogs, and in some cases, identity. MySpace used to state that it could reactivate your profile for its use at any time, and Facebook's accounts are never permanently deleted. (Surprise!) If you see something you don't like, you don't have to sign up, but by agreeing to the terms of service, you are relinquishing your rights to contest or relinquish permission. Weigh the pros and cons, and keep the TOS in mind when you edit your profile and contribute to the site.
  • Don't add anyone you don't want to. That includes strangers, frenemies, and people you like. Do acknowledge that there are consequences, as people (specifically people you like, spouses, friends, children, and frenemies) tend to take rejection personally, and may demand a reason. In theory, Old People won't suffer the fall out of friend rejection.
  • Don't participate in anything you don't want to. This includes apps, games, events, and more. You're an adult, and you don't have to be forced into anything!
  • Have fun. Why bother if you refuse to enjoy the benefits? Keep in touch with your friends and family, reconnect with friends from the past, and enjoy the adventure and experience. (And don't be a downer! Or someone will de-friend you.)

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