The third podcast of Inside PR is in the can and this week we discuss Facebook privacy (listen to it here – we’re getting better at it!), which has become a pretty big topic of late as the giant continues to change its security options. At least once a day, there is something circulating that tells you which buttons to change to keep your information more secure.
But I think the issue here is less about Facebook letting Google search our walls and more about what it is we put on the web for the entire world to see.
We don’t think about the entire world seeing what we’re posting because we think it’s behind a “locked” door and no one can see it.
Joe Thornley, during the podcast, said, when he speaks, he asks his audience if they changed their security (or passwords) less than a week ago. Typically only a couple of people raise their hands. When was the last time you changed your password, clicked “no” on a new security option, or Googled yourself to see what the spiders are finding?
But this isn’t just about Facebook. I have a story to tell you. I’m embarrassed by it, but I think it’s important in this conversation. Last Memorial Day, I was in Beaver Creek with some friends. The girls hiked all day so we were adrenaline ridden, plus we’d had a few drinks. One of my dearest friends LOVES Keanu Reeves. I mean, top five list loves. And we always tease her that he’s gay so she is wasting one of her top five list picks on him (the rule is that if someone on your top five list approached you, you have carte blanche to do what you like with that person without your significant other getting upset). So she made some crazy bet with my husband and, if she lost, she had to admit that she was wrong about Keanu.
Fine, right? Well, I tweeted about the bet. And a prospective client saw it. His perception was that I am homophobic and that I share too much online. He decided not to sign our contract and we lost that piece of business.
So something that was all in fun and fueled by adrenaline and drinks turned into a lost piece of business for us. Sure, you can argue that it probably wasn’t the right client for us anyway (and I did argue that in my head), but the lesson is that I shared too much, I unintentionally offended him, and it cost not only the business but my reputation, in his eyes. And in the words of Warren Buffet, “You can lose money for the firm and I’ll be understanding. But lose reputation for the firm and I’ll be ruthless.”
What you put online is your reputation. It’s your professional reputation. It’s your personal reputation. My rule of thumb is that I don’t put anything online I wouldn’t want my grandparents to see…and I violated that rule in Beaver Creek.
You only have the perception of security and it’s getting more and more open every day. Sure we can all fight it and create a groundswell around what Facebook can and cannot share, but let’s face it, even if they are prevented from sharing everything they want, they still own everything you post on your wall.
So be prudent. Next time you go to post about a bet that might cast you in a bad light, think about how potential clients, potential employers, potential colleagues, clients, employees, your kids, your siblings, your nieces, your nephews, your grandparents, and burglars (yes, even burglars!) might perceive what you have to say.