I saw a post on this topic today that convinced me that I should step briefly out of maternity leave to address Facebook users. You're not "an idiot" or any term worse or similar, because you didn't see this brazen data mining abuse coming. Please recognize that - even with all the blows you may be getting from some of the IT security experts who are using this as their opportunity to say "I told you so". The fact is that we're all so 'busy' focusing on staying abreast of our own ever-changing fields, that there's little energy left to keep up with everything else... much less bitcoin, AI and social media.
Identifying the real issue
Now that I've cleared that up, if you can, pay attention to the messages from the IT security world and disregard the abuse, because on the following, they are correct:
- Free networks make their money selling your data; not just on ads. Regardless of how eloquently they say it without saying it. Sit with a lawyer and reread what you clicked "agree" to to stay on Facebook... and Google!
- Anything online is hackable. That's if it hasn't already been hacked. Don't quote me but, I believe, for every hack that is reported, another several hundred go unnoticed.
- Online privacy policies and systems are only as effective as your behaviour allows. You can have the best policies and systems in place, but if you (or your friends) share your phone number publicly, few systems can safeguard against that.
Bonus: If you're in business, and you delete your Facebook page, as Elon Musk has, Facebook will create a "claim this page" alternative if there are enough people searching for your page.
Addressing the real issue
Sure, you can delete your Facebook account (which does nothing, as the data is already out there), or you can focus on what you still have control over - change how you behave online. Fear won't change things, but being honest with yourself will.
- Being authentic and transparent online doesn't mean being naked. It's okay to share your philosophy and ideas online without sharing specifics, - names, addresses (no need to 'check in a XYZ restaurant' or enable location access), pictures of the view from your bedroom window - many videos/posts move you to tears (& purchases) without sharing any of these details.
- You can control that impulse to respond right away. Sometimes, heightened emotions make us share mire than we normally would. Create the post / comment, put it down (go for some water, meditate for 5 minutes) then come back and decide if you really need to share that. Easier said than done. I recommend scheduling posts in advance, using tools like HootSuite, so you can think it over before it goes out. If all else fails, delete it if you change your mind. The data will already be saved, but your average friend won't see it.
- Use it professionally. For many people, that simple policy causes a shift in behaviour. If that's not your trigger, find yours. Whether that word is 'mindfully' or something more powerful that translates perhaps to protecting your children, find a way to keep that word top of mind when you're online. Your friends in banking or executive roles can probably help shift your perspective, too.
- Use PayPal and similar services instead of your debit/credit cards. It's all hackable, but at least they'll have to work a bit harder, so they may come after your money last.
There are of course more options specific to your situation that make it easier to manage your behaviour for greater privacy online. These are just some basics.
What will work for You?
A lot of people have social media apps controlled by 'timer' apps, so they don't receive notifications during certain hours. Whatever it takes to protect yourself, aren't you worth it?
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Crystal-Marie Sealy, MBA, is a speaker and business strategy consultant focused on pricing, social media and feasible schedules, for established small businesses, entrepreneurs and executives. President and founder of Successiory and her signature E.A.S.Y. Strategy process, Crystal-Marie works with professionals who want to build sustainable (livable) business models around their lifestyles and create sustainable client community on social media. She also speaks and delivers workshops at business and motivational conferences on business entrepreneurial strategy for pricing, your schedule and client social media community. Connect with her and subscribe at www.successiory.ca