Social Networking: Privacy is such a buzz killMonterey Bay Design

Social Networking: Privacy is such a buzz kill

I was asked to join Facebook once – for business reasons.   After avoiding it for so long, I hated to mar my spotless record of declination in the Social Networking universe, but it was for business, so I plunged.  Within the first week, I was contacted by an old friend (good) – who was connected with someone (possibly on Facebook) from whom I never wanted to hear again (bad), and five people I’d never heard of who wanted to be my friend (WTF?).

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not against socializing, and I certainly do see the value in climbing aboard the Facebook-Twitter-Manta-etc. train, especially as a business marketing tool, but the internet, like any wonderful piece of technology, can be used for great good and great evil – sometimes at the same time.

Beneath the murk...

Beneath the murk…

Let’s just use Facebook as an example.  Having recently navigated the murky waters of a Facebook account setup, I  can say that I have finally surfaced slightly out of breath, but not too far off course and relatively unscathed. I say relatively, only because it was, in fact, an ordeal trying to figure out exactly what you can and can’t do with a business account – whether it is advisable or even against Facebook rules to turn it into a personal account, whether a business entity can function at all without the benefit of an admin with a personal profile, and why it is so freaking difficult to get any of this information at all. As I said, the waters are murky at best. And shark-infested… with hidden, sharp, rusty things that you can step on. But I digress.

With a personal profile, you let people into your Facebook life, and you are granting them access to all the details you post, that your friends post , that their friends post– unless you know how to guide those funky and elusive privacy details through the maze of your life.  Who’s looking?  Who’s reading this?  Friends? Friends of Friends? Predators? Hackers? Icky people?  You, truthfully, do not know, so you do have to be diligent in setting those privacy details just so.

Icky people.

Icky people.

As a business presence, if you elect to create a business page from your personal account, be prepared to stay on your toes – unless you feel like weaving the threads of your personal life into your business.

Having said all that, what’s great about Facebook?  Well, it is a fantastic tool to help boost your visibility and a terrific way to keep up with your friends.  And their friends. And their friend’s friends. But let’s face it – you love the fame. You want as many new “friends” or “fans” or “likes” on your Facebook page as you can get.  Look how popular I am!  But it’s the same pathology as some website owners wanting zillions of hits on their website through any means. They’re unsure how they got there or why.  They’re just tickled to see the ticker on their hit counter moving. “My business is tanking, but look, 1,000 hits  – just today!”

It’s the allure of attracting people to you.  It probably comes from the same place in our psyche that just wanted the cool kid to nod a curt hello in the hallway before Social Studies or to get picked in any order other than last for dodgeball.

Facebook fame is a type of fame that used to require a stroke of luck and only about 15 minutes.  Today, you can write a blog, get a Facebook page, get on MySpace, Twitter and if you do it right, you come away with friends, admirers, even – dare I say it – fans.

I realize this appears hypocritical.  Here I am spouting off on the semi-evils of the interwebs on a blog I’ve created to draw attention to myself and my business.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with owning your own little corner of the net.  Frankly, I like the idea that I’d need to put on a baseball hat and sunglasses when I log on.

And, after all, I don’t write this stuff just to smell the rubber burning between my ears.  The point of writing, for the most part, is to have other people read it.   ::peering over sunglasses at you, drenched in LCD goo::  You are there, aren’t you?  Reading this?  Oh, good.  Now, go ahead.  I give you  permission.  Tell a friend on Facebook about this blog.

And you know what?   Let’s be careful out there.

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