Friday, September 10, 2010

August 10 - Private stuff

A couple of weeks ago I got an email advising me to update my status on the Do Not Call register. Like most Australians, I hate it when telemarketers ring me. Especially when it sounds like they are ringing from another country!

So as you can imagine, I did not hesitate in clicking on the link in the email and updating my status. Which should ensure that my wife and I get to make dinner in peace for the next couple of years.

We were discussing the Do Not Call register in the office the next day while working on a creative brief. The brief in question involved finding a way to combat door-knockers.

Of course my immediate reaction was to exclaim, “How about a do not knock register?”

This garnered quite a laugh, but I was in fact being deadly serious. To me, door-knockers are just as intrusive as telemarketers.

In fact, considering the way they work and the type of households they target, I suspect door-knockers may actually be worse.

Anyway, before I go off on a crazed door knocking tangent, I’d like to talk about the issue of privacy and some of the benefits of being open to not being overly precious about privacy.

Privacy, as we’ve seen with the many debates around Facebook, is a hot topic right now. But is it an issue for everyone?

I recently signed up to do the Around The Bay in a Day bicycle race in Melbourne. To help me monitor my progress whilst I’m in training I downloaded an app for my iPhone called Runkeeper.

Apart from the fact that it’s free, and has many ingenious features, one of the best things about Runkeeper is it allows me to share my training regime on Facebook.

Sounds good huh? But in order to enable Runkeeper to do this, I need to allow it to share my personal information with Facebook.

Now of course I could easily decide not to do this, but I find that sharing my training progress and cycling routes online is far more motivating than keeping it to myself. It’s also highly motivating when friends comment and offer messages of support.

So as you can see, being open to sharing some of your personal information can have its benefits. And I believe that if something benefits you, then you should probably do it.

To be honest though, I don’t think this applies to Facebook as a whole.

For starters, I’ve seen friends tagged in photos that I really don’t think they’d want to see shared with their work colleagues or clients.

I’ve also seen smart people make some seriously stupid comments in their Facebook status update. But that’s a topic worthy of a whole ‘nother column!

Suffice to say, when it comes to privacy online, it pays to read the terms and conditions of everything. That way, you only have yourself to blame.

Although in the case of Facebook, this isn’t always the case, as they do have a habit of making unannounced changes. Many of which seriously affect your privacy.

My advice, for what it’s worth, is to set your privacy settings to maximum on Facebook, especially when it comes to photos and tagging. And to be more flexible when it comes to apps.

I’m sure there are lots of people who get as much out of their favourite Facebook apps as I do out of Runkeeper. But these apps cannot work if you don’t allow them to access some of your personal information.

And whilst it’s only one man’s opinion, I’d rather Runkeeper shared my information with the world than have my best friend share drunken photos of me on Facebook. Not that there are any drunken photos of me, obviously!

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