Does Privacy in Social Media Exist?

April 1, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                      return to JayVee Media Link LLC

magnifying glass over binary codeNews of all the social media platform changes and feature rollouts over the past couple of weeks has caused an uptick of concern once again regarding the privacy issue.  The question is, does it exist, or is it an illusion?  It’s a vexing query, for sure.

Point one:  the use of social media for marketing is positively surging.  These days, if merchants do not have an online presence they are at a clear disadvantage.  It really is out of the question to not have online profiles in our marketing arsenals.

Point two:  successful targeting of potential clients online is dependent upon how well merchants’ platforms and tools are able to gather information about the personal preferences and other pertinent information of online prospects.  Plus, most platforms that offer advertising need to do everything they can to facilitate successful marketing for their business users.  This seems to pose a direct conflict with stated claims of vigilantly guarding users’ privacy.

Point three:  By its nature, the internet is wide open.  There is never a guarantee that confidential information posted ANYWHERE will remain private, regardless of how stringently privacy settings are maintained.  This includes information shared in private messages, and even emails.  The vast majority of us maintain at least one email account on a “free” service.  But free is not free!  These services make money by scanning and selling our personal information, some of which may be garnered from topics we discuss in our email messages, to advertisers so they can custom tailor their pitches to us.  Bottom line:  if we can’t take the chance something confidential will be found by unintended recipients, we should not post the information online.

Facebook privacy shortcutsWith all that said, as 21st century dwellers AND as marketers, eschewing an online presence really isn’t an option.  But we need to vigilantly protect our privacy as best we can.  We must carefully consider the messages we type before hitting “post.”  This is especially true for platforms like Twitter that don’t Facebook post privacy settingshave graduated privacy levels.  For those that do, like Facebook, we need to make sure we set our privacy levels to the degree we desire, and monitor them fastidiously.  To review, start at the top right side of our Timelines, and work with the options presented in the little “lock” drop down (next to the gear icon).  After setting those, proceed to “see more settings.”  Go down the line, setting each option to the level desired.  Finally, do the same thing for each post.  Generally, the privacy levels we set for our posts remain as the defaults until we change them.  But it pays to make sure, just in case.

The best of both worlds must of necessity exist in cyberspace.  We need to put some information out there to be found; but we also need to guard what should not be discoverable by those who are not in our intended circles.  It’s a tough balance to strike.  How do you manage to share information while simultaneously keeping a handle on what you like to keep private?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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7 thoughts on “Does Privacy in Social Media Exist?

  1. To me, social media is the way to go if you want your business to stand a chance st success. People live and breathe the internet. My first stop in searching for pretty much anything is the internet. Privacy will always be an issue…so we definitely should exercise caution in what we put out there in cyberspace.

    • I agree, Sandra. It may well be necessary to share a measure of personal information in order to get something specific done online. The question to ask is how much and what kind of information. And we need to be careful to draw the line at the information we don’t wish to see circulated publicly – even if it means not accomplishing whatever we set out to do.

  2. i love posts like this because little by little, humans will continue to wake up to the fact that life does exist online (as well as offline), that we need it ALL to live well-rounded lives, and that NOTHING is private anymore, really. Privacy is a fallacy, and the best we can do is – as you suggest, manage the settings we have access to, and be aware. Thanks for this post, Jeanine. Look forward to getting to know you better. http://www.HarmonyNZ.net btw – one thing i try to never do is to reveal dob details and other things that can contribute to identity theft. Other than that, i’m an open book, as they say ;-).

    • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this topic, Lynn! It can be very scary to think that anything we put out there online can be seen by anyone – even with our privacy settings strictly set. There are always those who know how to get around them! But in truth, privacy has gone the way of the dodo bird even offline.

      I tell the privacy conscious among us to remember that once they hit the send button they have pretty much lost control over their information. We’ve seen plenty of examples of this over these past years! But, as you said, many things relevant to our lives are taking place online now. We can’t keep up if we aren’t online too…even if it means we must give up some information about ourselves. While control is never a given, the best we can do is monitor our privacy settings and, above all, think CAREFULLY about what we wish to post; how much private information we are willing to divulge. And we should NEVER share the stuff that can lead to identity theft!

  3. I actually prefer the term “social networking” because it isn’t just about “broadcasting to others” but “engaging with others.” Anyway, by its very nature, the foundation of anything “social” (media or networking) is open and inclusive and therefore inherently in-secure. This point must be clearly understood in order to survive in this upcoming medium. I find that being guarded while completely honest (although not completely uninhibited) is the best strategy. Set a vision of the good that you intend to create or foster and stick strictly to that premise. Marketing your own product or service should be a small percentage of your engagement. This takes real work and a long-term approach. This is something you must be willing to embrace with all of its potentials both good and bad or it is something you need to avoid. A traditional marketing campaign strategy in this platform is not only a bad idea, but something that will only cost you in the end.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Dale! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this issue! Social media, or social networking, is…SOCIAL! That means opening ourselves up to allow connections an opportunity to get to know us. There’s no such thing as one-sided interaction. As for marketers, again, I agree with you: this is not the venue for traditional push marketing techniques. And the only way to “pull” prospective clients to us is to foster and build trusting relationships. That won’t happen if we aren’t willing to share a measure of personal information. The consideration is in the kind of info and the degree of divulging that is prudent to share.

  4. Pingback: Regaining Your Privacy Online | Craig Peterson – Tech Talk Radio Show Blog

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