Monday, December 08, 2014

The Enemy Within: Facebook

By Vicki Delany

Is there anything that modern humans have a more conflicted relationship with than Facebook?

I have been thinking about that lately because, one more time, Facebook is changing it’s privacy policies and people are en mass printing a paragraph of useless legalese mumbo-jumbo that they think is going to protect them from the great Satan.

In the way of our ancestors of old sitting around a smouldering damp fire at night while saber-tooth tigers prowl just outside the flickering firelight, they chant the magical words that are intended to keep them safe.

The really interesting part of it, to me, is that Facebook is 1) Free 2) Totally voluntary and 3) People absolutely hate it.

As a friend of mine said, Don’t put anything on Facebook you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the newspapers.

There, now you have nothing to worry about.

If you don’t’ want the chance of Facebook distributing your photographs, don’t post them. (Really, do you think they want your pics of your grandchildren around the Christmas tree?) And, BTW, Facebook never takes your copyright, but they do have the right to use your material as they like. You gave them that right when you signed up, and nothing you can say now can change that contract other than leaving the contract. Like any other contact you enter into, you can’t just change it on your own by saying you want to.

I do know people who have left FB because of worries over privacy concerns. But those can be handled, I think, with a bit of common sense. You don’t really think my birthday is January 1, 1984 do you? Facebook does.

Facebook is great for keeping in touch with family and friends and for making new friends. And it is invaluable for those of us with something to promote. There isn’t a better way of spreading the word about your new book or a library event.  

All you need, really, is a bit of common sense and an awareness of what you are doing. Because I am, in a very limited way, somewhat of a public figure as far as my writing’s concerned, most of my posts are set to public.  That means anyone at all can see them.  Occasionally, I’ll have something for my family or close friends, and I can change the setting to reflect that.

Regardless of your settings, your privacy is only as private as your network is, so leave the passed out drink photos and the racist or misogynistic comments out. Unless you want them brought up at a job interview.

If you really hate Facebook and don’t trust it, leave it. If you’re just suspicious (and you should be sometimes) use it carefully.

And, as for those legal warnings, as Abraham Lincoln said, “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.


Melodie Campbell said...

I'm smiling at this post, Vicki, and especially at the idea, "Don't put anything on Facebook that you wouldn't want to see on the front page of a newspaper."
Most writers would LOVE to be on the front page of a newspaper! FB is all about increasing our visibility. You nailed it.

Donis Casey said...

Amen, Vicki! I like Facebook, even if it is a time sink. Like Melodie says, the purpose is visibility, and I like knowing what is going on with everyone, author friends and other authors I simply like to read. And sometimes it's the only way I know if some of my relatives are still alive.

Anonymous said...

I do like FB to reconnect with old friends and I have an author page that I have found moderately helpful, but it's all about using common sense!