Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Privacy: It Can be Complicated in This Digital Age

By Stacy S. Jensen


Do you ever worry about privacy in this age of over-sharing?

My response varies with the social media outlet, and sometimes the time of day.

Today, we share much of our private lives
through social media.  There's no need to
spy through the keyhole anymore.
Over Christmas, the family of Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg made the news over a privacy issue. His sister Randi Zuckerberg discovered a private photo shared on Twitter. It turns out her privacy settings were not airtight.

If the Zuckerberg family can’t get its privacy settings correct, how are we regular folks supposed to figure this out?

I rarely find out privacy changes through Facebook, the company. Instead, I rely on several writers groups on Facebook or writers on Twitter to share the news.  If something big happens in this area, I expect the news to trickle down in my Facebook or Twitter newsfeeds.

I remind myself that nothing is really private on social media sites. At the end of the day, we’re each responsible for what we say and do online and in person.

Do you:
  • ·        Tell blog readers where you live — city or state?
  • ·        Write about things your children do?
  • ·        Share your real name?
  • ·        Criticize agents or other writers?
  • ·        Write about yourself or others in blog comments or tweets?


All of these online activities leave a digital trail.

Have you ever googled your name to see what comes up? I’ve done it and found random tweets, comments on blogs and my own blog posts show up.  This information is available for potential employers, agents, publishers and your mother to see.

While the Randi Zuckerberg privacy issue made some people laugh about the irony of it all, it reminded me to check my privacy settings.

Privacy is a lot more complicated today than it was way back in 2007 before cell phones were smartphones or the iPhone was born.

How do you deal with privacy issues with your personal and professional online presence? Are you worried or not concerned at all?

About the Author: Stacy S. Jensen worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for two decades. Today, she writes picture books and revises a memoir manuscript. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and toddler. 
Blog: http://stacysjensen.blogspot.com 
Twitter: @StacySJensen


18 comments:

  1. I'm always careful what I say on FB. I do use my real name, for name recognition as an author. And I have given my city. But that's all. And I never say anything that I wouldn't want repeated.

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  2. I think your last line is a golden rule of social media: "never say anything I wouldn't want repeated."

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  3. On my professional facebook page, I keep to topics relating to illustration, children's books and publishing. My private facebook page has more personal information, but I also know how I connected with each of the people on my friends list. It's a fine line between proper caution and unrealistic fear, it's important not to cross it.

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    1. Heather, I'm surprised at how many people don't know the people on their "friends" list.

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  4. I got a scary email from Facebook about pictures being passed on. I didn't know if everyone got it so i took off the best close ups of the kids, ones that could be sold on. I forgot to change my settings, but how awful they on your inaction to profit from you.

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    1. Catherine, I know I use FB to share pictures with grandparents on my "friend" account. I hope that doesn't have to change.

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  5. There was an interesting story on NPR last week about data trading. We want to know something about, say, Stacy Jensen. So we type that into Google. Google gives us the information in exchange for that tidbit of data: "What are people seeking?"

    How all that stuff is aggregated or 'mined' is a huge resource that is being tapped in order to re-design the future interwebs. :-)

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    1. Cathy, I'm not sure I want to read that story from NPR. :)

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  6. I didn't start FB until after I started blogging, so it was never a personal social media outlet for me. Although I'm sure I'm fooling myself with the little bit of privacy I think I'm maintaining. It's kind of unnerving.

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    1. I began FB after blogging too. I agree it is "kind of unnerving" at times.

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  7. All good things bear repeating. Thanks, Stacy.
    Three years ago I launched into FB, encouraged by my writing group. Within the last year, I created a writing blog to further a writer's platform. It's been a learning experience in many ways--not the least of which has been privacy awareness issues. So thanks again.

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    1. Donna, There is still so much to learn as we navigate through these new "internet" waters.

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  8. Before I started a practice, I didn't use my full name online much. Now it's everywhere -it's definitely a hurdle or a tipping point for me (like ok, I'm going public). I found it an either-or situation, not how much one shares. Once it's out, it's out. I am concerned about privacy and give as little info as I can, but that "little" is actually a lot if compared to the amount of data I gave out 5 years ago.

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    1. Sue, It's interesting how business owners/writers, etc. are expected to have an online presence now. I agree about the "either or situation."

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  9. As a personal blogger/memoir writer, it may seem to readers that I share a lot. But I'm particular about things I don't share. I'm rarely very specific about what's going in my life. I save that for personal interactions, phone calls, emails, in person visits. The one big thing I did: take my birthday off Facebook. The other: unfriend a bunch of people I didn't know. Yes, I actually accepted requests from strangers. But it was because in the beginning, I wasn't sure how to separate the personal and the professional (as most friend requests came from those who knew me as a TV reporter).

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    1. I believe people sometimes mistake memoir for "everything." Just like fiction writers, memoir writers pick and choose what's best. Good point about FB friends. I think FB pages make it easier to connect, but not share every private moment with the "whole world."

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  10. My comment disappeared...ugh...

    Okay, let me see if I can remember what I said yesterday.

    I hadn't heard that story about Zuckerberg's sister; that's interesting.

    When I started blogging 7 years ago, I kept all details (names, where I lived, etc) private. When I decided that I needed an author blog last year, I started using my real name, but I still don't mention hubby or the kids' names.

    I do worry about the nuts that are out there, but not excessively so. I try to believe in the goodness of the general population. :}

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Stacy!

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    1. Sorry your comment disappeared Teresa. There are some horror stories of bloggers being attacked non-stop by visitors, but it's not the norm. I also try to believe int he goodnes of the general population.

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