I’d like to ask you something. Would you hand out flyers to strangers on a busy road. Flyers with info about what you do, where you live, where you go out to, who you eat lunch or dinner with and where? Flyers with info about where your kids go to school, what they wear, what they do wrong (or right)? Flyers with pictures of you children, pictures of you on vacation, pictures of your favorite places?
No? Why not?
I have another question. What do you post on Facebook or any other social network? If you now say nothing, then you might as well stop reading. I would like to share some thoughts about social networks and the way we deal with them with the ones of you who are interested in it.
I know that we all have different opinions and that we all use social networks for different reasons. For some it’s nothing else but a business tool. For others it’s a way of staying in touch with friends and family and sharing things on a daily base with them. For others it’s about sharing everything with everyone.
I’m not telling anybody what to do, what’s right or what’s wrong. All I want to do is provoke some thoughts.
I asked you a couple of lines further up if you would hand out a flyer with all kind of personal information to strangers on a busy street. Most of us would probably say no. And still we do. Facebook is in a way nothing else than a flyer with all kind of personal information handed out to people. Depending on how strict we keep our privacy settings those people are only close friends and family. But in some cases all those information is out in the open.
The moment you put something on Facebook (I’m only mentioning Facebook as it’s the one social network I know best) you lose control over who can see it. No matter how tight you keep your privacy settings. I know what I’m talking about as a friend of mine has shared posts of mine. And that’s where I lose control. You have no control whatsoever over your friends and families habits, no control over their privacy settings. That’s where it gets tricky.
Even if you only share pics of you children in a close kept group, those pictures might be passed on by them to their friends and who knows where else they might end up. Do you know how easy it is to get your hands on a picture of someone on someones Facebook account? Pretty easy. The app I use on my mobile phone lets me save a photo and then I can basically do with it what I want. And I’m not a very tech savvy person.
I’m not going to tell you not to share anything anymore. I just want you to consider what doors you might open.
There is the example of someone I know who posted on FB that she can’t wait until they finally come in to fix the back window that doesn’t shut properly anymore. Then, a couple of days later, she posts about how bored she is, sitting at home all by herself… I’m a friend. I don’t have any bad intentions but what if someone with a nack for it picks up on it? Now he knows that there is a broken window and she’s all by herself. Invite here you are…
I have another friend who drives his wife crazy because he always posts when he is leaving overseas for work. Wife and children at home by themselves and he is miles away.
We tend to share things now on social media, we would have never ever put out there before this hype started. Maybe we would have mentioned to the neighbor about going away but for sure not the entire town (okay, in some cases it might have been ended up being the same…). We share things we would have not blurted out in public. We post pictures our best friends would have blushed.
With some of that stuff I really wonder why. I get that you feel an urge to share pictures of your children, especially when they did something that made you proud. I get that you want to share it especially when you live abroad. I get that you want to share things that make you happy or maybe frustrated or sad. Still. You might never be able to close the doors you might open in doing so.
I just had to share these thoughts as they were provoked through comments on this post. The story might be far fetched. Maybe it’s not even true. But can you see how it could happen? I totally can. Have you heard of Madeleine McCann? The girl who went missing in 2007? I’m sure you have. One of the theories in her case is that it was a planned abduction as the parents had made bookings to the restaurant via the reception desk of the hotel and they also told the personnel that the kids would be in the room while they were out. So the possibilities that a couple of people worked together in this is huge. Now take the story from my previous post… You post a picture of your girl on holiday. A creep shares it with a pedophile who then orders the girl and now someone picks her up and she is half way around the world before police even gets there…
Does that sound paranoid? Maybe. But you know what: I’d rather be slightly paranoid than sorry…