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Monday, May 17, 2010

Social Media and Protecting Your Virtual Brand

A few days ago I logged into Twitter and saw a RT posted by @feliciaday; it read “This is kinda cool. RT: @mashable NYU Students Raise More than $100,000 to Build Facebook Alternative - http://bit.ly/cm72yk”. I immediately followed the link and in the fourth paragraph of the article was a sentence that embodied everything I had been feeling since my friend’s picture popped up on my Pandora to tell me that he “liked” Lady Gaga: “sharing information online and maintaining one’s privacy should not have to be mutually exclusive”. I read the entire article, watched the videos, and went to their website to consume every bit of information about this project. Diaspora* is going to be a social media system that will bring together all of your social media content and allow you to share your information on a selective basis.

Social media is one of the biggest parts of a person's virtual brand. It's the way that people connect and communicate with others, and it's the personal aspect of one's brand. But lately, the notion of privacy [or lack thereof] in respect to the social media revolution has really gotten to me.

I have to admit, I love social media. I also have to admit that when I logged into Pandora and saw my friends’ pictures popping up to say that they “liked” the artist that was playing I was kind of, well, horrified. I wasn’t logged into Facebook. I don’t save my passwords since I am super paranoid when it comes to online security. I hadn’t added a Pandora app to my Facebook. How was Pandora doing that?!?! I logged into Facebook and there was an invitation to a group called Petition: Facebook, respect my privacy; this was quite obviously what I was looking for. After reading all of the information posted by this group I spent hours un“liking” pages, switching all securities to “Only Me” or “Only Friends”, removing applications and blocking applications.

This isn't a call to abandon social media, the tools and convenience provided by social media sites are too useful to dismiss but I hope that people realize that their digital footprint is seen by more people than they realize. Diaspora* just may be the tool that helps maintain the balance of sharing your life with others and protecting your privacy. The information available online about you influences how others perceive you, your family, your hometown, your employer, everyone that is associated with you.

You should be in control of your own virtual brand. Your virtual brand IS you.

1 Comments:

Blogger Zach Gardner said...

When I signed up for Facebook four years ago, there's no way I could have imagined that it would have become this absorbed into daily life. From a programmer's perspective, the idea of being able to track that kind of activity across websites is really neat; from a human being's perspective, that is kind of scary.

As programmers, we are driven to create new features and to combine existing ones in new ways. If left unchecked, things like this can happen where privacy becomes an issue. We all, programmers and users alike, should be in dialog to make sure the features we create are (1) usable, (2) innovative, and (3) leave people with a feeling of satisfaction rather than a bad taste in their mouth.

5/20/10, 10:52 AM  

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