What Can We Learn From Facebook

Facebook Privacy Bug

Another day, another privacy breach… yes, Facebook has admitted that up to 14 million people may have been affected by this latest “glitch”. This software bug has meant that millions of Facebook users may have unknowingly posted private information out to the public. Facebook has said it will notify all of those affected, but whether this includes you or not, there is a valuable lesson to be learnt here about what we share and how we share it.

Several years ago, I conducted an unscientific, one-off study with a friend I met on Twitter. I sent him a private, direct message and then deleted that message. I then asked him if he could still see the message that I had erased, and he could. I haven’t replicated that test, so it may not still be the case, but this amplifies my warning about online sharing. Just because you believe that you have deleted something doesn't mean to say its not still out there.

What information do you share on Facebook? Earlier this year, I downloaded all the data that Facebook have stored on my personal page. It is all there, from the date I initially created my account right up until the present and included every single private message and conversation that I had had over the years. Now I’m sure the good people at Facebook have more important things to do than read all of my conversations, but nonetheless, there they all were. There is nothing that I would be mortified if someone else saw, but equally there were reasons these were private messages and not out on my public timeline.

The lesson here is to be careful what you share online – whether it be public Tweets or Facebook updates, or messages you believe are private – nothing can ever be guaranteed to be 100% private if you are messaging through a social media platform. Go with the idea that potentially others could see what you’re writing, and you should be ok. No matter what assurances messaging platforms, apps and social media sites give us, the chances of there being some form of breach are higher than there not.

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