Monday, April 15, 2013

Friends of Friends and Privacy on Facebook (More Internet Safety)

Recently, I've received a spate of friend requests from people I don't know. Never met them, not even once. Not someone I knew in college or in high school. Total strangers. How could this be? My privacy settings limit strangers to seeing only my name and photo on my timeline.I can't imagine that total strangers swoon over my picture and decide they just have to know me. Yes, they may come across me in other ways: I do have a Facebook badge on my website, The School and Home Library and when I Google myself, I get about 77,000 results. After reading about me or something I have created on the Web, they may be overcome with a desire to know me; however, I think this is unlikely.

Here's what's really going on: I'm receiving friend requests from friends of my friends (even though my privacy is set to friends only). When I've researched the names, I've discovered that I've already seen them on Facebook. They've posted comments on my friends' posts and photos. They've been tagged in some of the same photos in which I've been tagged. And I guess they're just wanting to expand their circle of friends, enlarge their community. After all, a friend of my friend has the potential to be my friend as well.

So here's the thing: When we post, comment, and tag, we forget  that many people will see what we have put in Facebook. Even if our privacy is set to friends only, friends of our friends will see our info when our friends comment on our posts or we comment on theirs.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It's just a reminder, and a reminder we should share with our children, that once we post something online, whether its to Facebook, a blog, wiki, or whatever, we no longer have any control over it. We cannot control who sees, shares, copies, pastes, saves, or re-posts it. And we can never take it back. The moral of the story: Think very carefully before posting or commenting on Facebook. You never know who might see it. Share this with your children and teach them the critical thinking skills they need to understand how Facebook and the Internet work.

To learn more, order a copy of book:  Internet Safety for Homeschoolers: A Family Approach by posting a comment to this page.

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