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Following my little rant about online privacy yesterday I came across this great little Q&A article with Chris Kelly, Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook.  

Facebook has faced a lot of criticism lately, particularly in the tabloid press and on mind numbing TV shows like GMTV who, in my opinion dedicate a lot of their energy into promoting a ‘culture of fear’; a society obsessed with ‘hoodies’, ‘ASBOs’, ‘paedophile rings’, ‘data theft’, etc.  I’m not saying that these issues aren’t important, but some stories are hyped up by irresponsible journalists pursuing unrealistic circulation targets.   But I digress…

I’ve always felt that social networking sites, such as Facebook get a bit of a raw deal in the press.  Okay, so they screwed up with Beacon, but they were quick to recognise this, putting their hands up and admitting it was a mistake.  Social networking on this scale is a new media concept.  And we’re all learning; users and social network service providers.  We’ve got to take a share of the responsibility for the privacy of ourselves and our kids online.  I think Chris sums it up:

“Kids have to be educated to recognise inappropriate approaches and advances and how to report them. Parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing online and how available or not available their information is”.

Facebook still has a huge responsibility to protect the privacy of users but it’s a two way street.  Let’s stop being fearful of ‘what could happen’.  Be proactive, understand the tool, protect yourself! 

I’ve said it before in a previous post; education, education, education. 

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In the past I’ve been guilty of dismissing articles about cyberstalking, profiling, privacy breaches, etc,  as pieces of sensationalist journalism.  I’m the type of person who’ll happily spend the weekend uploading photos to Facebook, leaving comments on other people’s whiteboards, joining the ‘Margaret Mountford (from The Apprentice) Appreciation Society’ and taking quizzes to determine ‘Which 30 Rock Character are you most like’?  And all without a second thought because I’m happy that I’ve selected the highest level of privacy settings; only the chosen few, ‘my friends’ will get to see how sad I can be on a Saturday night! 

But what about the areas of the Internet that you can’t control, as pointed out by Ian Spiegelman in his slightly chilling blog piece The Government, and our Advertisers, Are Well Aware of our Fetishes?   Certainly made me think about the type of image that my online ‘clicking’ behaviour might project.  A casual ‘click’ into Gawker over lunch, or Digital Spy on a Sunday afternoon, or even a wrong turn onto PerezHilton…argh, it doesn’t bear thinking about!

The American Congress are talking about establishing a ‘do-not-track-list’ which would at least give us more control over being monitored online. 

About time too – let’s be a bit more savvy about who we allow into our virtual lives.  I mean, seriously, what would George Orwell think? 

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