Privacy Settings Set to Careful

I feel like I am a fairly private person. More than that I am a careful person. I only joined Facebook two and a half years ago when my wife Meeka and I were hired to teach overseas. We joined because the school had created a new hires group and it was a great way to get information about where we were going to be living and working. Getting to know some of the other new hires was helpful to ease our minds about what life would be like at our new school overseas.
We were still not sold on the idea of Facebook. As I said we are private people with a tight circle of friends. We didn’t want to just put our lives out there for everyone to see. We also believe in living our lives and not stopping all the time to document it on social media. Initially my wife Meeka and I were going to start a blog to keep friends and family up to date about what was going on in our lives. That lasted two posts. It was so much work. We were in a new country, at a new school, teaching grades we weren’t used to. We just didn’t have the time to write a lengthy blog post full of pictures and descriptions of the day to day activities of our lives. But Facebook was working out great for me. It was quick, it was easy and most of my friends were already connected. Facebook was in and the blog was out!
I am a much more active Facebook user than Meeka. I am the one that maintains family connections. She is much more concerned about privacy than I am. That is not to say that I don’t limit what I post because I do. I just think that what I post is not that interesting to the wider public. Outside of friends and family I can’t think of who would be interested in anything I post. My privacy settings are pretty generic. Only friends can see my posts but anybody can contact me with a friend request. My own personal policy on friend requests is simple though. If I don’t know them in real life I will not be friends with them on Facebook.
One of the reasons that I am not too concerned about privacy is that I am very careful about what I post. I had my Repnup report completed and it is pretty mild. My biggest faux pas according to the recommendations from the article Job hunting? Take a close look at your Facebook page; is the occasional reference to alcohol. The reffb_reportreferences mostly relate to having a few beers or a glass of wine. They are often based on comments made by my Facebook Friends. I think that if an employer has a problem with me having a drink or two it is likely not a place I would want to work.  I am careful not to have pictures taken where I am consuming alcohol, I don’t use bad language and generally speaking I try to stay away from religion or politics. This is a very difficult task though as religion and politics tend to seep into lots of different topics in lots of different ways. For example, I guess you could say that sharing or posting messages that are sympathetic to the plight of Syrian refugees can be seen as religious or political depending upon where you live, where your friends live and what the message or post says or shows. I even thought twice about adding a temporary filter to my profile picture that shows support for the people of France after the Paris attacks because I hadn’t recognized the tragedy that occurred in Lebanon (Not Just Paris: Why Is Beirut’s Brutal Terrorist Attack Being …). This is a bit of a grey area for me.
Because I am careful with what I post and how I say it I feel relatively satisfied with how I protect my privacy. That is not to say that I am not concerned with privacy at all. I am a private person and there are lots of things that I only share with a small group of trusted friends and family. In the Ted Talk Glenn Greenwald: Why privacy matters he argues that we all have something to hide. I agree when he says that “there are all sorts of things that we do and think that we’re willing to tell our physician or our lawyer or our psychologist or our spouse or our best friend that we would be mortified for the rest of the world to learn.” We need to have places that we can go where what we do there or think there can remain private. He goes on to say that people behave very differently when they think they are being watched. This is why I behave the way I behave online. I expect that I am being watched. I know that even if I use the most stringent of privacy settings there is a chance that what I put out there online could be leaked. I think this is what we need to articulate to students. I think we should encourage kids to always be careful with what they post online. We also have to teach them to understand privacy settings and that they should demand an open and clear outline of privacy policies from the websites and web-services that they use. It is a difficult concept to get across because young people tend to jump into new technologies without really thinking about the risks. It also requires a lot of reading and often there is a lot of jargon attached to privacy policies that we may or may not understand. I ask myself and perhaps you could ask yourself if you have actually ever read the privacy settings from some common websites and services like Google or Apple, or Facebook? I can say that I have not. I generally default to my own privacy policy which is to only post what I would be willing to say or show or do in front of anybody I know and even people that I do not know. I only hope this policy is good enough.

One thought on “Privacy Settings Set to Careful

  1. Hey Andrew,

    Thanks for the link to Rep’n Up link to I gave it a try and, like you, I was pleasantly surprised! I feel that I am very careful of what I post as well. A few mentions of beer or of words like damn were the worst that I have done! Not too bad right?

    Although prior to this course, I thought that I have been careful regarding my own digital footprint, it has been interesting looking deeper and thinking more about what I post, why I post and the things I share in such posts.

    One of the most interesting things I have noticed is the way I have been thinking about what other people post. I have been watching and thinking about the things that friends comment on, like, share or post and have been quite surprised! Some people are clearly not as careful as you or I! People sharing posts that are overtly religious, political or sexual for example. I have been shocked with the trends on FB these days. Everyone is sharing everything and anything. They are posting about Syria, refugees, Paris. They are changing their FB profile pics with the French flag as you say… They are offering up all their Privacy info to find out their most-used-words-on-FB (link to Is it our job to tell them? What do you think our responsibilities are?

    This reminds me of Noura’s post called “I Share. Therefore I Am. about her mom who clearly over-posts… link to Noura brings up similar conundrums. Do we help to teach adults or seniors about these things to help them with their own digital footprints, let alone our students?

    Anyways, this course has caused me to watch other people ruin their digital footprint…I just don’t know what I should do about it…if anything…

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