My friends and me… and the rest of the world

Who has an online access to a personal information about me? My friends and me! …and the rest of the world.

Nowadays we live our life more online, than offline. We have a number of accounts all over the Internet – on social media, forums, blogs, online communities. And our details and photos are if not on all, then on most of these accounts. The problem, however, is not that our personal information and our whole life are online. It is that we believe that we still have the control. When we don’t.

Facebook-infoI, personally, have accounts on social media, website for blogging, websites for creative work and so on. I have made the decision to put my two names and a profile picture on all of my accounts. Other details, such as nationality, age and location – on some of them. And almost everything that I could ever put online, on my Facebook profile. Why? Because this is the only social media, that allows me to choose who sees what. And exactly this has made me believe that I have the control and have nothing to worry about. But have you ever tried to type your names in Google? I did.

social-media-and-privacy-education-across-the-nation-australian-computer-society-29-728It is frustrating. It is scary. I wrote my name in the Google search bar and apparently my whole online life came out. Links to all of my accounts, my photos in the ‘images’ section.. Simply everything. This made me rethink my whole activity, especially on social media. I do not feel safe anymore. And the fact that anyone at any time can access private data,  which I do not want to be accessed by strangers, scares me a lot.

And the question is not how and why is our personal information all over the Internet. Because the answer is obvious. We all know that onc you put something online, it stays there forever and you lost the control. So the question is
What makes us trust the cyberspace to this extent? How exactly do they make us believe that we do have the control? ..when we don’t…

 

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Online visibility

My Online visibility is something I have always given serious consideration to, my parents were always wary of internet privacy and I remember when I around 16 and I created my first email account my mum walking into my room and telling me not to use my real name. That’s always stuck with me, the phrase ‘better safe than sorry’ is something I’ve always applied in regards to my privacy and visibility online. The truth is I’ve only got comfortable with the sharing aspect of social networking as I got into my mid-twenties. I’ve only had a Facebook account since September and I probably wouldn’t have one if I wasn’t at University. Before then I had Tinder and Whatsapp, the latter is a social networking app but the sharing aspect doesn’t compare to others like Facebook and Tinder offers some element of control. When Facebook first arrived most people I know would add any tom dick and harry which I was never comfortable with. The idea of sharing my experiences in the form of picture and personal information with strangers made me uncomfortable. My Facebook account is private and will always be private in my mind was business does a stranger have looking at my page anyway? As a television student Social networking is a great way to promote your skills in the creative industries so I will create a separate page in time. In the meantime I’ll stick to a having a private page and the apps that suit me.

 

It depends on the platform…

While my name is fairly ‘common’ (which if I admit I don’t like), you are able to find me on a variety of social media sites by typing in my username that I use for almost everything. Including Instagram, Twitter and Youtube. The only exception is Facebook. My profiles on all of these platforms are on a public setting…. Why?

The truth is I don’t really have any particular reason to why my profiles are public. I use Facebook more than any other profile and the public are able to view my profile to see what I get up too. People may think, isn’t that dangerous? You don’t know who could be looking at your profile. My argument to that is, I don’t post content on my profile that I deem to be sensitive. For example, I wouldn’t post my address on Facebook or anything I deem to personal. My online self is of course made by me, so I am aware of what is on these platforms. Therefore all of the content that is available for viewing, I feel comfortable with people seeing. This includes mainly pictures and any statuses that I may post about my life.While I do not have ‘control’ as such, because the sensitive information isn’t there, people will not find anything to use against me. I am not an individual that posts often on Facebook, I use it more for seeing what my friends are doing and messaging/interacting with friends through the messenger.

When it comes to YouTube, I want people to see it! As a creator, I very much enjoy making and producing content for peoples enjoyment. My YouTube channel is related to mens hair as I have an interest in mens style and fashion. Therefore having people viewing and using the tips I give, I get enjoyment out of it.

If I were ever to think that any of the content on my profiles could effect me in the real world, I would certainly change the settings, however now, I do not deem it necessary.

-Lewis King

Invisible Online. An Extract From ‘What A Beautiful Lie’ Chapter.

Do I have to tell you one more time how the internet and its gigantic social media representatives are just simple black holes for your private information? It is a well-known fact that the oh so alluring pseudo-protective policies granted by social media platforms are just ‘advertising artifices’. Shared too much information online? If you’re looking for forgiveness search for it in another century, when the internet was merely a dream.

My presence online is extremely discreet. In general, I am careful with sharing any type of information online. At the moment, I have four social media platform where I use my real name: Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook. Other media platforms such as WeHeartIt, Tumblr, etc. have become a digital metaphor of my hesitance in ‘being personal’ online – I use a nickname on all of them and share no information.

My Instagram account is private. As long as you’re not of my followers, you can’t see more than my full name and my Snapchat username. On Snapchat, my story can be viewed only by my friends. I keep Twitter public because I intend to use it as a professional social media platform. Facebook on the other hand, is literally a ‘fortified virtual realm’. If a complete stranger accesses my profile, one’s won’t be able to see more than my gender (which is pretty obvious anyway…), my cover picture and the cropped-out version of my profile picture (Tell me ‘why’ Facebook? Why even that?). In comparison, a Facebook friend can see what I consider to be a little more than basic information: where I live/study, certain photos and check-ins, our mutual friends and eventually the official pages I like.

None of my online accounts has its privacy set on default. However, I’m aware the internet has its own way of reaching my personal information increasing my online exposure more than I’d wish. But at the end of the day, this is a risk we all assume, right?

How many of you keep their social media accounts on default privacy settings?

Now you see me

People get carried away by the latest trends and they feel the urgent need to feel included or accepted in certain groups or categories of people. That’s why most of us picked up social media in the first place. I registered for a Facebook account for what is seems a hundred years ago now only because couple of my friends already had one so I figured I should try it too.

Today, everybody has social media accounts. And it’s not just Facebook anymore. It’s also Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn and so may others. They all require personal information that we give away without even questioning because it seems to be rather innocent. Data about us such as full name, address, date of birth or phone number are collected by anyone who wants to because it’s all there. We are more visible than ever in the online environment and even if we try to keep these things private, it’s still kind of easy to target someone on social media and in a couple of days you can see whether they are at home, where have they been in the last week, who are their friends and family. With this being said, do you think that we will ever be able to not be that visible online while still having social media accounts?

I am Out There

This was by far the hardest topic to blog about and I am writing this an hour prior to the deadline. I must admit that I took too long to gather the courage to say what I am going to say. I have been reading all other posts under this category and I stand is complete opposite.

I am out there. My online visibility is very high. You can Google me, and you will find out quite a lot about who I am, what I do and my professional life. I have attended many events, spoken at conferences and featured in newspapers. This would be the first few things you see; professional visibility. I use Twitter and LinkedIn to make professional contacts and my profile contains details of my career. I have 3 WordPress blogs that has a good follower count.

However, I am also the social animal some people do not approve of. I have many friends on Facebook and I constantly post images and statuses. These garner a lot of online traffic. My Instagram account is public and my bio includes my Snapchat name. I am really annoying on Snapchat and constantly upload my story. Ironically, people who think that I over-share, are the ones that increase the views on my profile. I have a YouTube channel where make videos about my life and I am always in front of the camera!

With this I have clearly given you an impression that Yes, I am out there. Some people tend to judge me for my social media presence. But here’s the thing, I choose to be visible! I am not forced to do this and I am definitely not ashamed to do so. At the same time, I have accepted that sometimes there could be consequences to my online visibility.

What are the measures I take to keep safe? I ensure that I have complete control over my presence. I do not accept friend requests from anyone that I haven’t met or spoken to at least once. I customise my privacy levels in a way that I can choose who views what. I do not post pictures that could be used for any other purpose than what I intend to do. I keep away from social networks that involve interacting with strangers.

I feel online visibility has some perks too. As an aspiring journalist, it is in my job description to be social. In this digital era, I find it essential to be recognised. I want to be a broadcast journalist and my YouTube channel will help me do so! I want to be a good writer, and my blog will help people recognise me. I use social media to id my career goals and the level of online visibility makes a difference in my profession.

These days when journalists go for job interviews, employers check their Twitter followers. I want to make sure that I impress them when that happens!

Online Visibility

The statement, how visible am I online is not something I’ve often thought about. But when I think about it, I am actually not that visible. I signed up to Facebook when I was 14, since then I’ve had quite strict privacy setting on my account. This is mostly due to the influence that my parents and teachers had on me about online privacy. To check how visible I am online, I done a quick google search of my name and could find nothing about myself, other than that I share a name of a prominent businessman in Kankakee, Illinois who was kidnapped and held for ransom!

In terms of what I choose to share, it’s very little. My Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn all have very little information about myself on them, unless we are friends. The online online platform I use that isn’t on ‘private’ settings, is Twitter.

Rather ironically, while writing this post I took a break to procrastinate and went to my Facebook, to which I found that I had a new friend request, I didn’t recognise the person’s name so I went onto their profile to see who they were. It turned out to be a travel agent from Austria, with no mutual friends. So much for having a private Facebook!