Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Social Media Responsibilities

I'm on a bit of a social media rant at the moment so please excuse me.

I love social media. I have done for a while. Although I don't Twitter, nor do I get Twitter and I don't feel the need to get Twitter, my Facebook status is updated regularly. I like to see what people are up to. I like the little uplifting sentiments and funnies that are posted there, especially as I rarely get humorous emails any more.

Social media, in particular Facebook, is a great way things to get organised. Rather than sending umpteen emails and texts, book group gets organised, trips up the 1000 Steps and other various get togethers are co-ordinated with ease. I love social media's ability to do this and I think it's great.

However, there are a few things that I really don't like about social media.

My oldest niece, Elle, has just turned 13 and has got her own facebook page.

The first thing I see on her profile is her full birthday.

She receives a quick message for her adoring aunty.

"Hi Lovely,

Welcome to Facebook. Just a quick note to say that you really should take off your full date of birth from public view - it's not something people need to know. Can you do this? If you want to keep the day and month up, fine, but not the year. It's good practice.

Also remember, when you're posting things on Facebook - if it's something you wouldn't want your mother or Nanny to see, don't put it up there - ever.

Another thing, only make friends with people on Facebook who you know - in person. I hope your Mum has talked to you about this. Just hoping to keep you safe.

Lots of love,

Aunty Pand"

My niece is a good kid. She's a young thirteen, but quite sensible for her age and generally not into any mischief. I feel like a bit of a killjoy telling her this now, but Facebook is the place where if you post a photo of yourself throwing up (or worse) it can come back to bite you on the bum for decades to come. Future employers may be able to access these pages. Even more creepy - you don't who is out there. As somebody in my forties, I try and be savvy. Thirteen-year-olds aren't generally known for their common sense. All I can do is make suggestions to keep her digitally safe.

Don't shove stuff up online if you don't want or need people to know is the first tenet of social media. Your full date of birth is one of those things. Your year of birth when you are thirteen-year-old is definitely one of them. Who knows what people are seeing this information?

After numerous chats with a friend who's a security expert I've come to the conclusion that less is very much more when it comes to social media.

If you want to keep having a social media presence, you have to be extremely savvy - which most of us aren't. I like his bent on this. There are some companies that need your private information - banks, utility companies, the government. If you're borrowing money from them or they are providing you an essential service, okay they need things like your full date of birth and your full address for identification  - and I'm okay with this.

If they're not providing these sorts of essential, legally binding services, what do they need this information for?

He says for non-essential services, create an alias - complete with different date of birth and email. This account use for all of your Scoopons and group buying stuff and newsletters and online competitions. Have an alternate email account, date of birth and the like to help provide a modicum of privacy. Where possible, use payment portals like PayPal to keep your bank accounts and credit card numbers secure.

He's got so much more pertinent information about online security, but these are easy gems to get the safety process started.

People don't think about how easily a computer can get hacked and there goes all of your information. Identity theft is becoming more and more prevalent - what will it be like when my 13-year-old niece turns 20?

The other big beef I have at the moment is around posting what is frankly disturbing content - often for what is seen as the common good.

Last night, after a wonderful book group I came home and as is the normal practice, logged on. I did some chores, tapped out a few emails and had a quick look on Facebook to see what's going on.

To my surprise, a friend had posted something with a title of "Get these scum off the streets".

The picture was of a group of ecstatic looking youth.

I thought no more of it, scrolled down, then scrolled up again and had a better look at the photo.

I wish I hadn't.

I don't want to see photos of decapitated cats being paraded by such monsters. I especially don't want to see such stuff just as I am about to go to bed.

For pity's sake, I don't even watch Police Procecurals in the evening - I don't think its good for the psyche.

Some of the rubbish people post on their pages - cancer ridden babies, aborted foetuses, assault victims... animal mutilations like the ones shown here - seriously. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE POSTING AND WHO MIGHT SEE IT! If it's going to upset somebody, don't pass it on.

(I think if this rule as the new version of "If you don't have nothing nice to say about somebody, keep your mouth shut)

It took me a long time to settle last night. I shoved on Pride and Prejudice - about the softest and fluffiest program I could think to watch to take my mind off things. Such horrific acts of animal cruelty really upset me, and as much as I'd love to take a baseball bat to these feral blokes, Facebook is not the place to have such sadistic images.

What I find even more perplexing is that Facebook will allow such images - yet take off images of women breast feeding their children.

The world's gone mad.

Rant over.


Kath Lockett said...

Well said, Pandora!

We try (as much as we can, considering she's thirteen and knows her own mind) to apply the 'Grandpa is friends with you on FB, so remember that every time you post' criteria.

But what's sadder is that adults who behave badly on FB. A recent case for us is someone who openly criticised us and a specific situation, but wrote it in a way that made us 'anonymous' but instantly recognisable. Cowardly.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

I am on Facebook - I actually have TWO accounts, one of which is anonymous (the PM account) but I rarely use either.

I do tweet - but again only occasionally.

Great advice for your niece - I worry about my own lads and they are 17 and 19!!!




FletcherBeaver said...

I have to disagree with your last point. Censorship is never good and the freedom of speech needs to be protected at all costs... even if you don't like what people are saying. If you start censoring people, because you don't like what they say, eventually all sorts of things will start to be censored and, eventually, you may find that someone wants to censor you.

Lets the idiots speak, at least you know then what you are dealing with.

Pandora Behr said...

Hey Fletch,

I'm more than happy to let the idiots speak. Let people say what they want. There should never be censorship of anybody's words.

I do hold great objections to images that can cause great offence being hung out there like laundry without appropriate warnings in place. Sure, there's a market / place for such images - and they should be available to those who want to see them - but there should be some modicum of reason about putting them out there in a public forum where people can trip over them. Case in point - snuff films. They're out there. If people want to watch them, so be it - I would prefer not to. I should have the choice to view explicit material. At least with the written word, or views on the radio/ television, I can chose to switch off.

Images of youths parading around a decapitated cat... not something I would wish on anybody - but I don't take away the rights of people to view such material.

More a case of beware of your audience.