Much has been written about privacy and the web. I just read an excellent column from Webby Awards' director David-Michel Davies over on MediaBizBloggers. I don’t know if this blog post was inspired by or prompted by an earlier blog post on that same website from the usually very articulate and smart Shelly Palmer.
The issue at hand is this: with Facebook Search upon us apparently you will now be exposed for the binge-drinking, table dancing, karaoke singing, serial adulterer/adulteress that you are.
As some of you know, I like to say I live my life in full disclosure. I have mostly kept my digital life very public and find-able A simple Google search will reveal I have profiles on virtually all networks known to mankind including some that are perhaps not known to mankind at all. I am looking at you, Microsoft’s so.cl.
On these, I share what I find interesting, funny, thought-provoking, memorable, aesthetically pleasing, tasty or just groovy.
I don’t fear the Google or Facebook search. Why? Because I make choices. And that, ultimately, is what the whole debate on privacy comes down to: making choices.
Obviously, if you choose to tweet in a drunken state, you may regret this later. If you partake in a drunken binge fest, you know that there are always cameras around and you also know that those pictures will inevitably turn up on Tumblr. Or they will tag and share your drunken quotes on Facebook.
None of these are good for your reputation (although if they go viral they may improve your Klout score…).
You have probably also heard that recruiters are now using social media to check you out before or after your interview. “But they use LinkedIn, right?” I hear you say. They do: 98% of recruiters use LinkedIn, but at the same time 42% use Twitter, and 33% use Facebook according to the “2012 Bullhorn Reach Social Recruiting Activity Report.”
So here is the rub. Use Facebook Search and Google Image Search (and search on all other social networks) to your advantage. Simply tap in your name and see if you are happy with the results? If not, follow Shelly Palmer's simple steps to untag and delete what you need to get rid of. If you don’t want anyone to know what you have done there is only one simple piece of advice: don’t share it.
Obviously, the same is true for brands. Do you know what is out there when you search for your brand? I remember once pitching to Nokia, and in order to get some Nokia visuals I searched for “Connecting People” in image search. Now, this was 10 years ago, and the Google search was not as sanitized and filtered as it is today. But even today, if you scroll down in the search results you will find imagery that is not for the faint of heart.
This is harder to address than your own personal stream, but with the help of a smart SEO/SEM agency there are remedies here as well (which may be more effective than sending “cease and desist” letters to Russia or Brazil).
Ultimately, since the rise of social media you have a new role to play for yourself: you are the editor-in-chief and publisher of your life. This is a big responsibility, as the definition of the editor in chief is “a person responsible for the editorial aspects of publication; the person who determines the final content of a text (especially of a newspaper or magazine)”. Replace “text” with photo/tweet/tumblr/instagram/etc. and you get the picture.
So, to paraphrase an old and wise beer drinking man: stay responsible my friends.