As social media continues to grow it delivers many advantages as well as many disadvantages for personal and professional communication. I mean, truly ask yourself, how safe is the information you share on social media? How well do you know the people in your social networks? Do you know them at all?social-media-and-privacy

As more and more people utilise social media, the privacy debate intensifies. You only have to read the papers recently to see what the government is looking at doing. There is a fierce debate at the moment as to “Should the government monitor the internet?” To date, the official statistics are saying 45% yes and 55% No.

A comment for the “Yes” that I thought was good:
“Best of luck to them. As a generalisation, your privacy level on the internet is lower than on a regular phone line. In theory they’re supposed to get a court order before collecting information on an individual’s internet use and reading their emails, but if you believe they always do this, you probably also believe in Father Christmas and tooth fairies. I quite like the idea of the intelligence services intercepting the communications of terrorists and organised criminals. And if they want to snoop my emails occasionally, I’ll live with that”

But then reading the “No’s” there is definitely a point here:
“If the Government were caught spying on our browsing history, cookies and other privacy settings it would be violating our right of privacy, people would take it to court, money would be wasted and anger will rise in the public. This is unjust and unfair. People should have the right to privacy.”

To start with, the purpose of social media is for us all to engage and develop relationships with our friends, family, colleagues and the wider world. It encourages us to share information and in most cases I would say we give it up willingly without thinking. Each time we surrender information our privacy is further weakened. I mean our personal life is now pubic along with our professional life. Why? Because most people choose to share what they do on social media where everyone can see everything and this is where people’s lives personally and professional become blurred.

So when you actually think about it the only way to have total privacy on social media is to not use it and that would be ridiculous. Social Media is here to stay so we just have to get on with it. I know a lot of sites talk about their privacy settings but in honesty they are all quite feeble. We only had eBay in May this year let all their users (145 million) know that they had been hacked. In 2011 we had Sony PlayStation have hackers gain access to their 70+ million users at that time. Now that is a lot people with a load of information.

So what can we do about this? Common sense is what is truly required along with a good understanding of social media and a wee bit of education. Think before you post. Before you decide to put something on social media ask yourself – is the content something I would be comfortable seeing in the next five year? If you are connecting to people either personally or professional do not add people you do not know. Remember what you post online stay’s online forever regardless of whether you delete it or close your account. Just look at Hollywood. If you are joining large groups like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram etc. make sure you remember the basic rule to Sign in and out of your accounts. Also ensure you have a healthy password too.

Take a good half hour to set up these accounts – it will be the best 30 minutes you have ever spent. Remember the aim here is to ensure you manage the overall risk to yourself – identity theft, stalking, misuse of information etc. So my suggestion to help run through this minefield of Social Media is educate one’s self before opening an account. There are many sites on “social media” that give suggestions on this so have a good read. We need to be a culture of self-responsibility and take a pro-active approach when it comes to privacy around social media.

Some interesting stats on users that I came across are:

“Every second two new members join LinkedIn”
“189 million of Facebook’s users are “mobile only”.”
“Social media has overtaken porn as the No. 1 activity on the web”
“93% of Marketers use social media for business”

And the most incomprehensible is:

“25% of Facebook users do not bother with privacy settings”

Remember your behaviour and postings are always on display.

Alicia Sumich – Group Manager; Business Development

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