Commentary
6/3/2010
07:18 AM
Allen Stern
Allen Stern
Commentary

A Simple Way To Protect Your Online Privacy

The Facebook CEO took to the stage yesterday to discuss how the current health of the company and to answer questions about how Facebook handles privacy. Here's one way to easily handle privacy related to sharing content online.



The Facebook CEO took to the stage yesterday to discuss how the current health of the company and to answer questions about how Facebook handles privacy. Here's one way to easily handle privacy related to sharing content online.At the D8 conference this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, addressed issues that have been circling the company -- how they handle your privacy as a user of the service. Last week Facebook launched updated privacy controls to make privacy management easier to understand.

Some users were so mad regarding the changes, they threatened to quit the social networking service. By all accounts, Quit Facebook Day was a bust.

There are two types of sharing events online that have privacy implications...I call them direct and indirect. Indirect sharing is the process of using the Internet and having services track your usage. Website tracking services including Google Analytics would be considered indirect sharing. Facebook's new "instant personalization" is another example of indirect sharing. This new option allows third-party "trusted partners" to use your Facebook profile to provide a personalized experience when interacting with one of the partner's websites.

Direct sharing is where you are actively sharing a piece of media or information online. Some examples of direct sharing include: uploading photos to a photo sharing service, posting a document online or uploading a video to a video sharing service. My assumption with direct sharing is that the documents, videos and/or photos could one day become public even if I set the item to private today. It's also important to understand that when you share content with your friends or family, they may share that content as well and your privacy choices might not be the same as their privacy choices.

This assumption makes me always think before I share online to make sure that I won't be negatively affecting myself in the future. Last month, the Facebook CEO had to deal with messages from the early days of Facebook that also showed some issues with privacy.

If you want to make sure that your content is never made public, don't share it. It's just that simple. And if you do decide to share content online, make sure to regularly review the available privacy settings on the networks you use.

Do you worry about your privacy when using a social networking service? What steps do you take to protect your privacy online?

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