In less than a decade our worlds have changed dramatically. Now, old flames are being reunited and marriages are being dissolved over the use of Facebook – a service that was in its youth only 8 years ago. The way people interact with each other has shifted to socializing online instead of in person. People are kept up to date on what is happening in a distant friend’s life on social networks instead of on the phone. And while this is a great way to keep people close, it can also expose your world to people you may not have intended.
The following are a few examples of just how public our lives have become with the increased use of social media to interact.
- Location-based services – With services such as Foursquare that encourage check-ins at local restaurants, shops, or businesses, people are broadcasting where they are for the world to see. While it may be fun to strive to be a mayor on Foursquare, opening up your location to be seen by your friends can be a risk. Imagine letting everyone know that you were at a local bar, only to have your ex-boyfriend show up for an impromptu greeting. There are fun sides to these apps, undoubtedly, but it is important to be aware of who will be seeing your location when you shout it from the social media rooftops.
- Status updates – Even if you are not using a location-based service, status updates can also provide a wealth of information that divulges sensitive information (think: exposing your new-job search to your current boss), or brings to light that you are on vacation, opening up the possibility of thieves seeing your status and breaking into your home when you are gone. While these are extreme circumstances, they are meant to show that it is important to be mindful of what you are posting and how public your posts actually are.
Exposure is not always a bad thing. However, it is important to be aware of just how public your data is each and every time you hit your keyboard or send an update from your smartphone.
You tell us – Do you worry about your life being overly exposed online? And if so, what privacy measures do you put in place to help stop it?
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Photo credit: Stan020