Are we dumb? Lazy? Or naive?

We are joining social media platforms and making new friends every day.  Moreover, we even become friends with people we have never met before.  Some people pride themselves in having as many friends as possible and this is not without danger.

When horror stories began to appear in the US, we Europeans had some good giggles about all those stupid and silly things some people did.  Whether they were comments on Facebook, messages on Twitter or videos on YouTube, we could not believe our ears.  We got confirmation of the statement “only in the USA something like this can happen”.  It would not happen in Europe.  We, Europeans, know much better what privacy is plus we even think that our privacy is well protected.  Not to say, that we think we are smarter.  But nothing is further from the truth.  Looking at the newspapers over the last weeks, European horror stories are featured daily and they are not any different than we one’s we laughed at. Why?  Are we as dumb as the Americans or are we as naïf as they are?

Many of us are just unaware of the dangers of social media.  By providing information about yourself on social media you are giving up your right to privacy.  All the information is stored on a server “somewhere” in the world so how can you protect that data?  Of course, social media platforms provide a number of security and privacy settings but your data is still in the cloud and you have no control over it.  Luckily, I see a number of social media policies that clearly state that you give up your right to privacy when you participate to social media but the issue is that most people do not know of the existence of such a policy in their company not to say they have not read them.

Sometime ago I read a great quote by Sam Lessin: “Privacy used to be cheap but now it is a precious good that is expensive to keep”.  Even though this is very correct, I do not entirely subscribe to it.  I want to argue that if you do not want people to know certain details about you, you should just not post or share it on any social media platform.  Privacy is at your own discretion and under your control – End of story and free of charge!

The problem might have deeper roots.  It starts with the fact that 95% of us who participate in social media never read the terms of service of those platforms.  We press “I accept” within seconds since we really have no choice when we want to participate.  It continues with the fact that 50% never changes the standard privacy and security settings and thus opens the can of worms even further.  Finally, no one ever reads a book or manual on how to use the different platforms and that is where the biggest problem is lingering.  Did you ever read a book about Facebook or Twitter?  We no longer read manuals in general (even if we buy a car, mobile phone or digital camera) and are unaware of the pitfalls.  Is that not just the recipe for disaster?

Is there a role for government, business or the general education system here?  Yes, I am convinced of it.  People need this information and built up these skills so they can reduce these types of horror stories.  True, it is up to the individual to take some action but still a gentle push can go a long way.  Or even better, put a “how to use social media” manual or book under the Christmas tree this year for all your friends and beloved family and make them read it.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: