Facebook Privacy and Bucks for Bytes – The Under 13’s Guide

Nephews, nieces and cousins under 13 years of age who want to be your facebook friend!

ATT: Everyone

The above image is courtesy of Matt McKeon. If you visit the blog you can see Matt’s cool visual interactive interpretation of the evolution of privacy on facebook (2005 to 2010).

THE PROBLEMPrivate or public information?

This is a hot topic at the moment. It reaches a vast array of common social and business issues. And it also carries a heavy undercurrent of personal and universal themes.

The content on my facebook page is populated by hundreds of facebook friends which means I cannot monitor everything that is posted (unless I sit there and monitor it 24/7).

What do you do when a 13-year-old nephew sends a facebook friend request? It can be anyone you classify as under-age in your selective world (a relative under 13, a colleague’s child) whom sends you a facebook friend request.

There are good reasons be exclusive and say no – or ignore the friend request. And there are as many reasons to be inclusive and say yes – accept the friend request. The problem is both options do not offer a satisfying solution.

Have a think about it for a second. Imagine saying no and then imagine how you would deal with it down the line. Then imagine saying yes and dealing with it down the line.

At the crux of this issue are several things for example: internet censorship and taking responsibility for the content, taking responsibility for the audience and taking responsibility for the messages in your personal digital space.

Digital Content. Audience. Messages.

THE SOLUTIONChange the settings

I confronted this problem a few years ago and decided to say yes to the friend request from my 13 year old nephew. And then very quickly interrogated my facebook privacy settings and figured out how to select who can and can’t access areas of my facebook profile.

Once the new settings were activated I tested it out.

First, I advised my nephew’s mother that I had accepted her son’s friend request and granted very limited access to the content on my facebook page. She was relieved and thanked me profusely.

From there it has been much easier to understand where my digital borders start and end. It has also been possible to move them as and when needed. From this point I decided to play and tweak every facebook privacy  – on, off, up, down. I followed this up with testing the result with different friends and associates.

THE LEARNINGControl your space

Before this happened I had an ignorant viewpoint on internet censorship, and now I firmly believe parents are responsible for what their kids do on computers in their own home. And uncles and aunts (or adult relatives) also share this responsibility to a degree.

This article is not about internet censorship, or family values, nor is it an instruction booklet on how you should raise your kids. And I am not going to engage in any conversation about these things online.

This article is about giving consideration toward facebook as a the common denominator amongst the majority of people online. And acknowledging facebook has opened its ‘walled garden’ and made almost everything that was once private, public. Whether this is good or bad is not the issue. What you can do about it is the point.

Take control of your digital space.

Analogically imagine your photo album and personal items available on your front lawn for everyone to see. Conceptually, fifteen minutes of fame will soon be ‘fifteen minutes of privacy’.

You don’t have to take notice of this if you don’t want, however most people will need to learn how to manage their own personal digital space. You will need to start thinking about how to manage your unprotected data, how to lock and unlock things online. And you will need to figure out where are your digital borders and how much does it cost to manage your bytes.

THE BUSINESS – “Bucks for bytes” – IDC Analyze the Future

Courtesy of IDC (via Sean Kelly) you can take a look into the future of the digital universe.

“..In 2009 the world spent nearly $4 trillion on stuff to manage our digital universe. As this spending grows from now to 2020, the cost of managing each byte will drop steadily too, which is an incentive to create more information…”.

Here are a couple of graphs to help visualise all this stuff – Figure 8 and 9.

According to IDC, some tools we will see more of include:

  • Migration to cloud services
  • End user self service
  • Sophisticated data centres
  • Bottle necks in real time processing
  • Manage-more-with-less stress

Manage this stress better than competitors and you will have the advantage.

Written by Mitesh Solanki


Filed under Big picture, Clear thinking, Culture, Innovation, Observation, Point Of View, Privacy, Social Media, Uncategorized

11 responses to “Facebook Privacy and Bucks for Bytes – The Under 13’s Guide

  1. Great post mitesh – agree that it is everyone’s responsibility to manage your online space.
    Will be interesting to see how the privacy conversation tomorrow at FB pans out.
    Speak soon

  2. I have had the same scenario play out with a 13 year old niece. Should follow up with her and ask her how she see’s things.

  3. SirGroovealot

    Interesting post given Mark Zuckerberg’s (dated) attitude being posted on SMH today.

    Is FB the place to post your digital data, or is there a better way to share with friends through other providers? FB’s opt out policy on privacy is the cause of much private information being outed unknowingly by less internet savvy users, or those just new to FB.

    Needless to say, the forum for discussion on digital data needs is hot right now, and guidelines on building your digital public visage need revision. Or if you prefer to opt out, then so be it.

    However, I see a need for education in formal contexts to advise users of the traceability and recoverability of online data. As well as knowing their rights, crafting a digital persona will need to become a consulting service similar to creating a resume.

  4. Hi Mitesh! Thanks for commenting on my site. I posted the following there but am cross-posting here to be sure you see it:

    I think your points are sound, too. I am not sure, however, that the ‘cost to manage’ will drop at the same exponential rate, simply because the rate-limiting factor there is not CPU cycles or storage space, but user attention and the ability of good software to help them economize that resource. That IDC study was funded by EMC so the fact that it presents a rosy picture of share more, have more ways to manage and therefore share more, feels a little predicated on the idea that all of this calls for more disk or other storage space, and thus a business opportunity for EMC — rather than a more honest assessment of the end-user’s ability to keep up with all the places their private information is, or ‘shadows’ of their information may be.

    • miteshsolanki

      Hi Sam, I actually know another Sam Jackson and you are quite easily the more intelligent one of the two. Excellent assessment of the IDC release. I didn’t know the EMC connection, however it makes sense. There are very few research houses left (that i am aware of) that will publicise a report for the good of the people, verses the good of the pocket. Hope our paths cross again. Regards, Mitesh

  5. thanks for the post :)
    hopefully the new privacy changes will make things better, lets wait and see

    • miteshsolanki

      Thanks Farouk! Yeah, I reckon privacy changes will be changes to the manner in which changes can be made to your settings, rather than any serious overhaul of the ‘Privacy Policy’. That’s just my POV. Thanks for your comments.

  6. Brenda Thompson

    That’s a very intriguing issue. One on hand, you may want to share your profile with the nephew so he can see family photos, vacation videos, etc…but you may not want him to see the sometimes controversial things which you may post, such as music videos or hot topic articles.

    Your solution of tweaking privacy settings works….but so does keeping your profile hidden from anyone who isn’t already your friend. In this way, only friends can search for you.

    You are right though; people definitely have to take control of their profiles and the messages they are sending out. They may not know it, but people are watching and making assumptions–right or wrong.

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