Facebook is the biggest reality show in the world. It has more than 1 billion unpaid actors who live a portion of the lives online. Recently I was interviewed by the Weekend Post newspaper about Facebook junkies or people who have more than 4,000 friends. It’s also notable I’ve closed my profile again just last week. The goal for me is to stay off Facebook until I’ve completed my long overdue book, The Psychology of Technology.
Anyway as I see it the biggest danger of publishing so much information about yourself online, is the risk of identity theft by scammers and spammers. The more personal information is published on open platforms like Facebook, the easier it is for people to steal your identity and open bank accounts, cellphone contracts and conduct transactions in your name. Those days when Facebook was a walled garden and Google was not allowed to index it’s content is history.
Facebook has ineffective privacy controls at best because they keep changing the rules. Each new feature introduced like Facebook Home, blurs the invisible line between what users want to remain private and what is actually shared. You can find significant amount of information just via Google searches without even logging into Facebook.
The company makes money from using your personal profile information to generate advertising. So it will never put it’s users concerns first while it impacts revenue or their share price.
One update per day is acceptable for most. The moment you post 10 or more updates per day, you are clearly looking for validation from your Facebook friends. For some people its acceptable to do up to 10 updates over a 12 hour period when they are promoting their business. For personal communication I’ve had some real-world friends remove me because my own business updates are to numerous.
The #1 piece of information NOT to post is your location. Make sure you GPS and Location services are turned off on your Smartphones or Tablets. If you don’t, below each update your location will be provided. Using Inbox to communicate with other users instead of public comments helps to increase privacy. The average Facebook user seems to often ignore good manners online.
The number of friends or followers was never an accurate reflection of who you are in real life. It is vastly exaggerated for the majority of Facebook users. One reason for this is the Facebook feature that constantly suggests new friends to you. I estimate at least half of people Facebook friends are people they’ve never met, and may never meet.
Facebook stopped being an closed platform when they allowed profiles to be indexed by Google several years ago. Mark Zuckerburg also demonstrated his attitude towards Facebook users when he said privacy was dead in 2010. People who believe their information or photos or updates are private since that statement are either ignorant or stupid.