Friday, May 4, 2012

Social network privacy?

It really doesn't matter what kind of privacy controls are implemented on Facebook or any of the other social network sites.  People just post too much personal information to begin with.  Even if they think are limiting their posts to a small set of "friends", once that info is out there, they have very little control over where it ends up.  Sure, most people will not intentionally leak private information and most sites will try to keep data private (yeah, good one).  That doesn't always happen though.  People just really need to think about what they are about to post. Maybe one little piece of info isn't so terrible, but combine it with other previously posted bits of info and pretty soon you have way too much out there.

Who am I kidding?  In most cases you don't even need to piece things together.  There are plenty of people that just go ahead and post every little detail of their life.  Post play by play as they go through there daily routines.  Day after day.  Month after month.  Excruciating details of their doctor visits or their conferences with their kid's teachers.  Wait, don't people get really pissed and try to sue doctors and schools for not protecting that very same info that they themselves just blabbed on-line? 

Bought a new car?  Why don't you take a nice picture of it sitting in your driveway.  Make sure to get the license plate in the picture.  Oh, don't worry about blurring out the address numbers beside the garage there.  Your nifty new camera tags each photo with the geo location anyhow.  That's way better than house numbers.

These same people will not only post detailed plans about an upcoming vacation or business trip, they will do the same for their friends and relatives.  Tell me you haven't seen a post like this before - "hey, I heard you'll be in Orlando all next week.  We're going to be there all week too.  We should meet up." Then instead of setting up details in private, they will continue back and forth in the original post until they settle on a good time and place to meet.  Hope they're not surprised when other people show up.

And if that isn't bad enough, there is this great "check-in" feature that allows you to post when you arrive somewhere.  You never know who you know that might be in the area.  They see you check-in and they can drop by to say hi.  Just don't be surprised when the creepy guy who knows just a little too much about you comes over to chat.

It's good that a lot of sites are starting to at least think about trying to protect users and their data.  Now we just have to figure out how to get all these people to think about protecting themselves and their friends better.