Online privacy is your own responsibility
By: Fahhd Husain
For millions across the world, social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are a blessing. Many use these webpages to interact with family and friends, but if used carelessly, the same tools that have proven to be such a convenience could well leave the user exposed to unwanted elements and, in some cases, the envy or disapproval of their colleagues.
While many are willing to share information about themselves with all the ‘friends’ made on social networking websites, there is always some information that these users would rather limit to just themselves or a closer circle of friends or family. Everybody has a right to his or her own privacy, but putting yourself out there for the world to see on a social networking site can sometimes prove to be a serious invasion of that right and that is nobody’s fault but your own.
For example, I like to keep my social and professional lives separate from one another. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words and when photographs of one’s personal life make their way online, it is the user’s responsibility to keep them private. In the past, no matter how hard I tried to keep my social life private, it was often through tagged pictures that certain colleagues, whose beliefs and principles vary from my own, had complete access to where I had been and my activities while away from the work environment and again this was nobody’s fault but my own.
It is in cases like this that people active on social sites must learn the basics of protecting their own privacy, while maintaining Facebook and others as useful networking tools. Ultimately, it is our own responsibility to keep our personal lives private and, by tweaking privacy settings on these sites, users can ensure that only the information they are willing to share can be seen on their profiles.
Also, users must be careful about the information they themselves post on their pages. I remember the time I got a rap on the knuckles from my former boss for missing work on a certain day. Putting up “great lunch party” as my status update while I used ‘food poisoning’ as an excuse for my absence was not the best of ideas. Needless to say, he was a Facebook friend and after reading my status update came up to the natural conclusion that I was being dishonest. When I waltzed into office the next day, looking and smelling as fresh as a daisy, his first reaction was, “At least don’t let the entire office see your lie.” Shamefaced, I sat down on my desk and was unable to look him in the eye for weeks.
Similarly, pictures and status updates can spark off jealousy among your colleagues. “Off to Athens for a week of leisure” may not sit well with your fellow workers, especially when some of them are gathering pennies to reach their hometowns in order to spend Eid with their families. What you do in your spare time with your money is nobody’s business but your own and it is often best to keep it that way. By divulging information on your personal extravagance, some users give their less fortunate colleagues the licence to look at them with distain and envy.
Finally and perhaps the most frightening prospect is the chance of a complete stranger enjoying total access to personal information as well as pictures on your profile. If your privacy settings are weak, people with ill intentions could use your information and photographs for their own nefarious designs. The pictures of a private weekend gathering could well find themselves splashed all over the Internet and, if certain users chose to leave their profile as public domain, they have only themselves to blame.
There have been a few of occasions on which pictures of Pakistani television actresses sporting swimsuits were leaked online and drooling men posted all manner of comments on their photographs. In the majority of these cases, the starlets had posted pictures of their latest vacation on a social networking site for their friends to see. But people with ill-intentions somehow gained access to their profiles and placed these photographs before the global online community.
Source: The News