Is Facebook Worse than Big Brother? Your Facebook Profile Would Give the FBI Envy!

I’m a big believer in privacy. Many say, “If you have nothing to hide, then you should have nothing to fear.” To which I respond with Reverend Neimoller’s quote during World War II. I paraphrase for the sake of conciseness, “They came for the unions, and I said nothing, because I was not a unionist. …They came for the Jews and I said nothing, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one to stand for me.”

Facebook-PrivacyEver since 9/11 our rights have been slowly eroded. The mantra being that we need to do these things for security. To which I quote Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would give up their liberty for more security, deserve neither liberty nor security.” It’s not a matter of whether you’re doing something you would be ashamed of (I pray that is not the case with any of you… or me), but rather asking the question, what gives anyone the right to gather private information on anyone, other than if he or she is committing a crime?

As I stated in my previous blog, Social Media Background Checks Are Not Just For Employment!, Facebook has employed facial recognition technology and included everyone in to the feature by  default. Well, it seems Facebook feels that privacy issues are things others have to deal with—not them.

PCWorld.com, under their sub-domain Security, posted an article yesterday titled, What’s In Your Facebook File? More Than You Think. In the article they point out that Facebook retains ALL data  pertaining to one’s profile. When I say ALL information, I mean ALL! Information such as:

1. Name, address, e-mail and phone (if available)

2. Date of Birth

3. Credit card numbers (if you purchased anything through Facebook, like a virtual gift or advertising)

4. Political views

5. Religious views

6. Location of every place you’ve ever logged into Facebook (if on a trip at a local library, a friend’s home, work, etc.)

7. Whom you’ve been avoiding

8. Who have you chatted with

9. Who’ve you been poking

10. What you’ve been posting

Some of this sounds innocuous (chatting, poking, posting), but if you are ever in a lawsuit and the lawyer requests a court order to get a copy of your Facebook profile (which is becoming more commonplace), what could a lawyer do with that information? What could be implied (whether true or false)?

If you’re getting a divorce and you’ve been using the “poke” feature to communicate with a high-school friend who happens to be of the opposite sex, even though absolutely nothing wrong took place, what could a jury be made to believe? If you’re in business and you’re being accused of immoral or unethical behavior, does the fact that you may have frequented a group that you shouldn’t mean that you crossed the line at work? If all you have is circumstantial evidence and a profile that says your moral compass needs tuning online, what may someone be apt to conclude?

The worse yet is that even if you deleted your account, history, removed a post or picture, it doesn’t matter. Once the action took place, it has been recorded. So don’t rush to remove yourself from Facebook, after all, there are good reasons and benefits to be on it as well.

However, you should consider what you do WITH it. What pictures are you posting? What are you saying? Who are you affiliated with? Remember the old saying, lie down with dogs and you will wake up with fleas (I guess on the Web it would be spiders).

So think before you post! The computer is NOT some force field that keeps your online life from touching your real life. As Brian Solis wrote in his blog (I don’t know who said it first and I paraphrase) everyone is made up of three people: the person they are in public, the person they are in private and the secret person they would like to be. Well, make sure you keep that secret person a secret, because if you let him out online, the world (wide web) will know!

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Eddie Velez

CEO and Founder at Success by Design
Eddie Velez is a marketing professional, designer and author. He has contributed to many portals like "Media Connections," "The 5 Minute Business Mind" and others. He has also contributed the chapter on the Internet and Websites for "Secrets of Successful Inventing: Sixteen Experts Spill the Beans." Eddie writes on many topics and has been a ghost writer and editor for authors and consultants. If you want Eddie Velez to contribute to your business content, portal or blog, contact him to discuss your particular needs.
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