social media for the private person 

Social media reveals a lot about a person and it is important for people to be aware of when, where, how, why and who they interact with online and what sort of digital information is shared, collected and stored about themselves and their activities.  Geospatial or geolocation technology is a growing piece of our everyday interaction with technology, intentionally and unintentionally, and it is on the rise.

I’m a private person, so I probably wouldn’t use an app like FourSquare.  In fact, I remove location tags from my Facebook profile since Facebook does not allow users to just turn off Google Maps.  A place and time stamp can be intrusive, and potentially unsafe if it reveals too much information, enabling people to be victimized.  If law enforcement can use metadata in photos and information collected from social media, so can cyber stalkers and criminals.  Frankly, I don’t want that much information available to recreate my life.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for accountability, but it needs to be balanced with respect for people’s privacy.  Give them an inch…

One day, a “Seen by” feature popped up on the Facebook group I created for a non-profit donation center I run.  It included names and times when members viewed a post.  This was a breach of privacy.  As a grad student I stay up late to work; how late is nobody’s business.  Nor is it my business when someone views a post.  It turns out that it is useful for groups that needed accountability (i.e. classes), but the time too?  Really?  Do people need to know what I was viewing a post at 2 am?  I’m surprised it didn’t reveal locations.

Since then, the time stamp has been removed, but names remain.  I must confess that I take a peek on occasion even though it leaves me feeling like a nosey neighbor.  Facebook collects all kinds of information, and they mean to make a profit and in their pursuit of that profit they can turn on and turn off features for all the information they collect with little warning.

As much as I love social media, I have other concerns about our use and dependency upon technology in addition to privacy and security:

  • Mindful Participation:  We are responsible for what we share intentionally and unintentionally, but it is a challenge to stay informed.
  • Intellectual Property Rights:  Who owns all that info about us and what we share?  It usually isn’t the user.
  • Mass Consumerism:  We continue to cultivate a culture of mass consumption…to what end?  Which leads right into:
  • Sustainability:  What about the resources used in creating and using these devices?  The slave mines, the energy and where is the waste going?  It is much more costly to throw a text book away than it is an iPad.
  • Digital Divide:  Technology has traditionally been an advantage of the elite.  How can we provide access to this potentially transformative technology to all?
  • Interpersonal Connectivity:  Are we spending too much time using our devices?
  • Addiction:  I’m embarrassed to say how many times I check [you name it], and I’m sure I’m not the only one.  I find the reward nature of social media to be a little disturbing and I find it worth asking if I control it, or if it’s controlling me.

Now, if you excuse me, I need to check Facebook and Twitter, update my LinkedIn account, upload some pics to Flickr, see what my friends are reading on Goodreads, find Diigo again, figure out what to do with Google+ and contemplate deleting my Pinterest account…


Chandler, K. (2012). Crowdsourcing to protect your privacy. Retrieved from

Dwoskin, E. (2012). Keeping conflict minerals out of your cell phone. Retrieved from

Fakhoury, H. (2012). A picture is worth a thousand words, including your location. Retrieved from

Kelly, H. (2012). Police embrace social media as crime-fighting tool. Retrieved from

Kopp, J. (2012) Social media risks & rewards. Retrieved from

Letham, G. (2012). Location-based apps rising in use despite privacy concerns. Retrieved from