Home > Privacy, Social Media > Share and Share Alike

Share and Share Alike

This post is part of a four-part series on privacy in the Social World which attempts to answer many common questions about the intersection between private and social.  See Part 1 here.  If you have a question that you’d like answered, leave a comment and let me know!  Thanks for reading!

Man avatar

Average, Joe

Meet Joe Average.  Joe is headed to a cocktail reception to meet other people who are interested in Widgets.  When Joe arrives at the party, fashionably late, he grabs a drink, maybe a few hors d’oeuvres, and starts working the room.  He’ll maybe do a lap of the room, scanning the crowd, picking up bits of conversation, then he’ll dive into a group and join the discussion.

What does Joe talk about?  At first, maybe it’s the party atmosphere, or the hosts.  Maybe it’s the weather or the outcome of a recent sporting event.  But as the conversation progresses, Joe will probably talk about himself.  How is he involved with Widgets?  He’s a buyer.  How many widgets does he normally purchase in a quarter?  Who does he get them from?  What kind of widgets do his customers prefer?  And Joe will probably ask questions of his new acquaintances, as well.  At some point, Joe will politely excuse himself to find a different conversational group, but not before grabbing a business card or exchanging contact information.  Joe is a Social Networker.

Deciding how much and what to share online is not a drastically different process from in-person social interactions.  We consider to whom we are speaking, where we are speaking, and who else might be eavesdropping.  At the bare minimum, you should share your name and a way to contact you.   But depending on where this information is getting posted, anything more than that might be too much.  As the potential audience for your message grows, the sensitivity to what you are giving away also needs to increase.  Note that this is not a violation of the Social Contract 2.0, either – a small group of people sharing a lot can achieve the same social community as an extremely large group with each individual not sharing a whole lot.

Where do you draw the line on what to share?

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  1. May 23, 2010 at 3:52 pm | #1

    I’ve always felt your online privacy is your own responsibility and if you share too much it’s your fault until last week. On facebook, I set all my privacy settings to just friends, and some things were hidden to everyone. I then added a new network for the school I transferred too and facebook took it upon themselves to open up EVERYTHING in my profile to people in that network. The school has 70,000 students, I don’t even want to think of how many people had access to my home address, phone numbers, email, etc. Facebook crossed a very serious privacy line.

    • May 24, 2010 at 11:05 am | #2

      Thanks for your comment, Yaniel. It’s rough when a social networking site defaults everything to “totally public” even when you’ve previously set a precedent of privacy. I’m glad you became aware of the issue, though!

  2. Daytrip
    September 4, 2010 at 11:38 am | #3

    Over the summer I noticed that a competitor was Tweeting revealing business information to some of her professional colleagues. She was going through a rough time on a project that we both applied for (they chose her over me), and was commiserating about it with her friends on Twitter. What she apparently didn’t realize was that people like me were also reading her Tweets, and getting some valuable information and insight that we otherwise wouldn’t have had access to.

    Did I feel like a voyeur? You bet. Did I feel kind of sleazy doing that. Sure. Did I profit from the information? Yep. I wouldn’t break into anyone’s office or try to intercept their mail or hack their email account, but when somebody just lays it all out there in a public forum, seems to me the Darwin Effect becomes operative.

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