Track Your Online Content: Privacy & Technology (And You)

See this post in its original home on the Girls in Tech blog

Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement yesterday about the changes being made to Facebook’s privacy structure, it looks likeMichele Salahi State Dinner White House Crash Facebook Photos Salahi White House #privacy is about to have yet another run as the trending topic du jour. Well, that and that couple that crashed the White House dinner — as Demetri Martin would say, they’re like the herpes of hyped up news stories. Scheming social climbers aside, privacy is one of the web’s biggest concerns. As girls in tech, we talk about it all the time. Are our identities safe? Are our personal and professional brands secure? Are the kids in our lives making smart choices when they surf?

Months worth of memes have been made out of relatively minor changes to Facebook’s privacy policies in the past, and the comments are already piling in to the Mashable Article discussing this most recent development. It’s easy to understand why people get so worked up over what happens to their information on the internet. From cookies that track our every click to the fact that between docs, mail, maps and search, google knows more about you than your parents probably do, it’s clear that there’s plenty of reasons to make even the sanest surfer paranoid about what they post. As the product manager at a growing user generated content site, I deal with difficult decisions having to do with privacy all the time. What our decision making process always comes back to is a simple question: what would we want someone else to be doing with our data? Nine times out of ten, the answer is simple: give the user as much control over their content as you can.

Of course, as a user, it’s up to you to take advantage of that control. Fortunately, there are as many tools to track the people tracking you as there are mistresses in Tiger Woods’ skeleton closet. There’s google privacy dashboard, which allows you to see all the data points that google’s got about you. You can also set up a google alert that will let you know when new content about you is indexed by the search engine’s spiders. Keotag lets you put in a key word, and see what people are saying about it everywhere from Technorati to Twitter. And, Boardtracker lets you do the same sort of thing across multiple comment boards. Which means you can post your complaints about the new Facebook privacy policy today, and see all the trolls’ responses tomorrow.

It ain’t exactly privacy per se, but it’s pretty powerful stuff nonetheless.  At the end of the day, I strongly believe that the best privacy policy on the web is still the one you set up for yourself by watching what you post, where you post it and what gets said about it after you leave. However, if that’s too complicated for you, then just remember this simple rule: if you’re going to crash a White House dinner, don’t post photos of your uninvited self shaking hands with the president on Facebook. Unless, of course, your personal privacy policy involves a camera crew from Bravo and a hefty chunk of reality show change. In which case, I’ll see you on Thursdays at 10 in my living room.

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2 thoughts on “Track Your Online Content: Privacy & Technology (And You)

  1. Pingback: Mike Penner « Popular News, Information and Entertainment

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