image by bejealousofme
Privacy by definition is the ‘right to be left alone.' Yet, these days the very definition of privacy isn't as clear, and when you put yourself in the public eye things get fuzzier. As bloggers, we're active members of the attention economy, we put ourselves out there to the public and develop at times, very personal public personae. You want people to read your blog… often time that involved divulging personal information, your name, photos of you…sometimes where you live, your likes and dislikes, then you have all the social media outlets out there to promote your blog, sometimes you can't reveal your identity because you might get fired from your job (sounds kind of super-heroish, and some are!).
So the question I've been wondering lately is how other people cope with managing their public online life and their private one…. when I posed this question on Twitter, here's what some of you said…
The internet can be a minefield of privacy invasion, sometimes unwittingly. Personally, I divuldge quite a bit online therefore have to be prepared for whatever people interpret. I can only own my experience, not outside interpretation. Indeed, there are things I would do differently today… unfortunately I wasn't born with internet street smarts, but with experience picked up a few pointers:
- Don't post anything online which I wouldn't say or show to some random stranger on the street, to my parents (though they were much crazier than me), to my boss (me), or potential bosses… Google keeps a permanent record of everyone
- Make a clear boundary between public and private. I use Facebook, Myspace, Twitter…etc as marketing tools. Those profiles are for my blogs, and interact with you better, not personal purposes.
- I have no control over the internet. Not even Google has that. I'll manage my persona by being the best person I know how to be today, that's all I can do.
You are smart…. so negligence is no excuse, not after the internet has been around for 20 years… basic safety tips are readily available, if you plan to make the internet part of your daily life, it's your responsibility to protect yourself. If you dig a little, you'll find some amusing examples of what happens to people who don't use internet street smarts. So familiarize yourself with the dangers of identity theft, stalking and how easy it is to access this information. Make it your personal mission to know what kind of information NOT to share… I know.. it' makes those memes a little more challenging.
Be clear about your presence. Don't add strangers as social network friends to promote a personae then post ‘personal' stuff… is that really private then? It sends a message ‘Please look at me, but don't look at my personal pictures I'm allowing you to see.' You're leaving yourself open to misinterpretation if you don't send clear messages. If you do add strangers to your account, do read this post on 10 privacy settings to use on Facebook. (thanks Fenke).
Private accounts… If you want to participate in social media on a personal level, make private accounts, use private emails and STICK to them. Don't create a personal account and invite a bunch of strangers (see previous paragraph). Be clear that a personal profile is personal, your friends will understand.
Create a public personae with public email addresses, public names (aliases, first names, middle names), and public venues for your blog. That way, if you decide to ditch your blog (we hope you don't) you can make a clear break. I refrained from using my last name for a long time, until I decided to build my career around my experience blogging…. and that is a whole new post all together.
Acceptance… The internet can be a beautiful place if we just accept it the way it is. There are so many amazing things going on here because people share themselves. While some people desire privacy and anonymity, others strive for a culture of sharing and accountability. It's finding a balance and an informed comfort zone that will help us share in peace.
What are some of the things you do to protect your privacy online?
- IFB Fourms: Just wondering, how do you protect your privacy online?
- 25 Random things you shouldn't share… even if you think you are safe
- 14 Ways to protect your privace online
- 10 Privacy settings every Facebook user should know
- Seth Golden: Personal branding in the age of Google
- Your personal life exposed online
- Internet safety for Adults
- Online Privacy Tips for Teens and the Adults who ignore them