Vistage Executive Street Blog News

My Fight with Facebook: Privacy or Personality?

Like many other Gen Y’ers I was an early adopter of Facebook as it was almost unheard of NOT to use the social networking site during college. At that time, I had little concern about posting pictures, writing comments, even sharing my dorm room location. Needless to say I was naïve. Since then, I deleted my account and was off Facebook for a 2-year period without missing it. Then I saw businesses slowly adopting Facebook and realized the need for a corporate presence in the space. Not until 14 months ago did I start up with Facebook again as I launched the Vistage Facebook fan page.  In creating the fan page, I also had to create a personal profile. This time I created a profile my way…completely private and unsearchable. Or so I thought.

Lois Facebook

Recently, Facebook changed its privacy policies internally and publicly launched “Open Graph”—a technology that adds Facebook-like feeds to several dozen websites, including CNN.  For example, if you share a link to an article on CNN on your Facebook page, that information will be shared publicly on CNN’s homepage.

While this move does allow for easier sharing of content, including stories and video, it also lets you see what other people, those you know and don’t, are sharing with their networks as well as any comments they’ve made when sharing them.

Since the internal privacy changes went into effect, I’ve noticed things like pictures and aspects of my profile that I thought were invisible to all users showing up on Google searches and to everyone rather than just my internal network. This bothers me for two reasons: 1) I don’t like the idea of not knowing what is and is not publicly shared about my life despite my best efforts to keep information private and 2) I don’t want my personal life showing up in professional environments. I’ve always been a huge proponent of not sharing or posting anything online that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see (thanks Gini Dietrich for that tip). Still, it scares me to think that anyone can find a picture of me, my location and probably information on my family just by searching me on Facebook—even though I’ve opted out of having a publicly-searchable profile.

So now I’m back to where I was 2 years ago—do I keep Facebook or delete it again? I definitely see the need and benefit in keeping Facebook for a business context. It’s a great way to gain brand exposure and connect with your clients online. But personally, now that I can’t gain a certain level of privacy within my own profile, I’m not sure I want to be a part of the social network anymore. What do you think? Will you keep Facebook or delete your account?

16 Responses

  1. DK

    Find myself in the exact same position – as a social media practitioner I love the functionality and opportunity which Facebook affords… just not a fan of the trade off (re: privacy) – I’m using it less and less these days and who knows might be tempted to commit Seppukoo soon :

    http://www.seppukoo.com/

  2. DK

    Find myself in the exact same position – as a social media practitioner I love the functionality and opportunity which Facebook affords… just not a fan of the trade off (re: privacy) – I’m using it less and less these days and who knows might be tempted to commit Seppukoo soon :

    http://www.seppukoo.com/

  3. I share your frustration Lois but you are not really going to delete your account any more than I am. In fact FB will become more interwined with our lives – not less. 500 million people are hard to ignore. They need to do a better job (Mr. Zuckerberg do you hear us?) of not saying – ‘the hell with what people are worried about – let’s just do it’. Our company is working on building web presences within the FB platform and I think that will become more prevalent.

  4. I share your frustration Lois but you are not really going to delete your account any more than I am. In fact FB will become more interwined with our lives – not less. 500 million people are hard to ignore. They need to do a better job (Mr. Zuckerberg do you hear us?) of not saying – ‘the hell with what people are worried about – let’s just do it’. Our company is working on building web presences within the FB platform and I think that will become more prevalent.

  5. I am a firm believer that if you want to keep information private you have to keep it off the internet. I believe you can be on Facebook and be selective as to what you share. Anything on the internet is pretty much accessible to anyone who really wants to search and find it out. That’s my two cents.

  6. I am a firm believer that if you want to keep information private you have to keep it off the internet. I believe you can be on Facebook and be selective as to what you share. Anything on the internet is pretty much accessible to anyone who really wants to search and find it out. That’s my two cents.

  7. It’s really less about Facebook and more about the web. Even if you delete your Facebook account, you can still Google and find photos, where you live, and information about your family. In fact, I just Googled you and the first half of the page of images are photos of you. And, I learned, you died in Naperville. :)

  8. It’s really less about Facebook and more about the web. Even if you delete your Facebook account, you can still Google and find photos, where you live, and information about your family. In fact, I just Googled you and the first half of the page of images are photos of you. And, I learned, you died in Naperville. :)

  9. Thanks for sharing your comments. It seems that we’re all in agreement that there needs to at least be some discussion around privacy on the web– whether Facebook be the culprit or not.

    Mark- I would have no problem deleting my Facebook page. Where I would encounter a problem is that I think it’s important to be represented on there in a business sense– which conveniently, you need a personal profile to do.

    Gini- I know everything posted about me that you can find on Google (including that I died in Naperville…or was that Lori? ;-)) because I monitor it frequently and am very careful about what I share publicly. What I don’t like about Facebook is that it automatically defaults my information to public. Why not default it to private and let me adjust it to public if I want?

  10. Thanks for sharing your comments. It seems that we’re all in agreement that there needs to at least be some discussion around privacy on the web– whether Facebook be the culprit or not.

    Mark- I would have no problem deleting my Facebook page. Where I would encounter a problem is that I think it’s important to be represented on there in a business sense– which conveniently, you need a personal profile to do.

    Gini- I know everything posted about me that you can find on Google (including that I died in Naperville…or was that Lori? ;-)) because I monitor it frequently and am very careful about what I share publicly. What I don’t like about Facebook is that it automatically defaults my information to public. Why not default it to private and let me adjust it to public if I want?

  11. Louis Patrick

    The main issue I have with Facebook is they did not make it clear how Privacy Settings were changed and how the default setting are surprisingly open. I was informed by a friend and once I realized the full affect of the changes I went into Privacy Setting and discovered they are very effective if used. For example, I have decided by network and Facebook relationship (friend, friend of friend, etc.) what people can see down to very specific information. Facebook also offers to preview what your profile will look to the world outside Facebook and even specific people within Facebook. A Google search of my name results in one Facebook link in which only my current profile picture can be seen, not even my location is viewable. I feel Facebook has effective Privacy Setting in place but have not successfully communicated their use.

  12. Louis Patrick

    The main issue I have with Facebook is they did not make it clear how Privacy Settings were changed and how the default setting are surprisingly open. I was informed by a friend and once I realized the full affect of the changes I went into Privacy Setting and discovered they are very effective if used. For example, I have decided by network and Facebook relationship (friend, friend of friend, etc.) what people can see down to very specific information. Facebook also offers to preview what your profile will look to the world outside Facebook and even specific people within Facebook. A Google search of my name results in one Facebook link in which only my current profile picture can be seen, not even my location is viewable. I feel Facebook has effective Privacy Setting in place but have not successfully communicated their use.

  13. Katie Reynolds

    I agree with Patti that you should leave off the internet anything that you would like to remain private. However, there are ways to protect yourself. Here is a link I found with a resource you can use to help you protect your Facebook account: http://mashable.com/2010/05/17/reclaim-privacy/

  14. Katie Reynolds

    I agree with Patti that you should leave off the internet anything that you would like to remain private. However, there are ways to protect yourself. Here is a link I found with a resource you can use to help you protect your Facebook account: http://mashable.com/2010/05/17/reclaim-privacy/

  15. Katie,

    What a great tool! I tried it out and learned something new, so thanks for sharing that.

    -Lois

  16. Katie,

    What a great tool! I tried it out and learned something new, so thanks for sharing that.

    -Lois