Social network privacy settings

From How to Lose Your Job on Your Own Time:

Personal disclosure is the norm on social networking sites. But the Pew study included an unexpected finding: Teenagers have the most sophisticated understanding of privacy controls on these sites, and they are far less likely than adults to permit their profiles to be visible to anyone and everyone.

If you are a teenager, restricting public access to your profile has the nice effect of restricting your parents access to your social network data. I suspect lots of teenagers have pictures from parties and other activities that they don’t want their parents to see. This makes me wonder how much the use of privacy controls by teenagers has to do with a desire for more privacy in a general sense versus hiding from mom and dad.

Teenagers are also much more under the control of other authority figures than most adults are. Teachers are a good example of this situation. It is dangerous to speak negatively about your teacher when there is no way to know that they are not following your online activities.

Monitoring how these same teenagers change their privacy settings as they mature and become more independent would be a very interesting study.

2 thoughts on “Social network privacy settings”

  1. This is sort of related.

    Sometimes too much information can work against you and there are times when discretion paramount. A lot of people on social networking sites don’t understand that sometimes it really is important to not share or let something be known publicly. It can damage a reputation or a career, ruin a relationship or get you into trouble.

    Someone once commented that I should get FCP decals on my van to advertise the business. So I told them why I don’t — a certain number of my customers don’t want it to be known I work on their computers. For a handful, it is a condition for the work. They have their reasons: they work for other people, it is against a contract for me to officially be there, they are public figures who desire privacy, that kind of thing. There have also been a couple over the years that I don’t want it known that I’ve worked for them. Unmarked bog standard minivan is a way to deliver this.

    The Internet is no different. A lot of people who offer content on the Internet don’t realize that it will be there forever and can be used against you forever. Applies to comments, forums, blogs, Facebook, you name it. You should only offer it if you are sure you want everyone to know.

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