A Private Matter: Facebook Smarts
February 29, 2012
The invention of the social networking website Facebook has no doubt been one of the greatest innovations of the past decade. Its formation created a user-friendly system which allowed social information to be shared quickly and on a larger scale than ever before. However, every time a user presses the “post” button, whether on Facebook or another site such as Twitter, some hidden implications accompany sharing information with social media.
In the same paper, CMU found 80 percent of people have accepted friend requests from people they aren’t close with. On Facebook, 54 percent of people have accepted friend requests with people they wouldn’t consider to be friends and 44 percent have accepted friend requests with people they aren’t friends with. All of these people now have access to a user’s information beyond what “everyone” can see. Even if someone utilizes the privacy options available to them and they don’t specify who should see their information, then people who they don’t even know have access to all of it. The New York Times has placed the number of links between Facebook accounts of strangers in the U.S. at an average of 4.37 links. Meaning the distance between a random stranger and all of a Facebook user’s information consists of four mouse clicks. Being mindful of this information, people on social media need to be more aware of where their information can go if they are not careful.
With this knowledge, Facebook users need to be responsible. If they aren’t careful with their information, then it will be the whole world’s information. By utilizing the privacy settings available to themselves, social network users can protect themselves and others from anyone who might misuse this information. While it may seem like a hassle in the short term to edit privacy information, in the long run it may be more of a worthwhile investment than one realizes.