‘Somewhere along the way, when we were building social media products, we forgot the reason we like to communicate with our friends is because it’s fun’ – Evan Spiegel
Show one someone who says they’ve never Facebook stalked someone in their life and I’ll show you a liar. Social media is for sure one of my favourite inventions of recent times. As someone who moved around a lot as a child it’s a great way of keeping in touch with those you want to without having to be pen pals like we were in the 90s. And 99% of the time I absolutely love it. I’m a chronic over sharer and more than happy to put my life, thoughts and white wine selfies out there for the world to see.
In recent years many social media platforms have been criticised for the use of people’s personal data and inspired by the (really excellent film) Searching; where a man’s daughter goes missing so he taps into all her social media to find out what happened to her, it got me thinking about my socials, my privacy (or lack thereof) and just exactly how much of my life is out there for the world to see. If I went missing? Would my socials give my whereabouts away?
First of all, if I went missing, other than me being genuinely worried about which selfie Dave would choose to give to ITV news, you would have no issue getting into my phone; it’s not locked or password protected. Because as far as any dirty secrets I might have, I’m squeaky clean. I try as much as possible to maintain a tight ‘no trash talk’ in writing policy (after learning the hard way in my 20s) so other than a few screenshots of things I have absolutely no explanation for, and a YouTube history that predominantly pimple popping videos, there’s no dirt to be found in there.
I’m rapidly falling out of love with Facebook so you probably won’t get many clues from that other than seeing who I’ve wished happy birthday that day. I’m getting back into twitter but it still seems to be the wasteland of negativity that it was when I left it 2 years ago. I only use snapchat for the filters and never post anything there. Your best chance at finding me? Check out my Instagram. It’s the only place I geotag anything and post to stories constantly. If I haven’t updated my stories in the last 24 hours, best send a ‘u ok hun’ text because I’ve 99% for sure been kidnapped.
It would probably be fair to say that internet privacy isn’t something that concerns me too much. I mean, my Facebook profile is on lockdown and if you search for me, this is the only information you’ll find:
But that’s more to prevent the nosy cows who were mean to me at school trying to look at my wedding pictures. And whilst my Instagram and Twitter profiles are open, it’s 80% boybands and 20% pictures of me with glasses of wine so if any government spies want to do something with that information they’re more than welcome.
I guess the only thing I do with any seriousness it try not to give away the specifics about where I live or where I work. I turned off live tracking on Run Keeper years ago because much as I loved my friends being able to give me shoutouts, I didn’t like the idea of people knowing exactly where I am at any given moment. I also keep it vague about where I specifically work, just so as to keep my day job and side hustle as separate as possible. Plus I know that not everyone is comfortable with their lives or whereabouts being splashed all over the internet so there’s an element of protecting my friends, family and colleagues privacy as well. Much as it pains me to say, it’s not always about me.
How much do you reckon you social media gives away about you? I mean I’ll be perfectly honest, if I ever go missing, looking in the nearest pub would probably be a good place to start to try and find me and you know because of lockdown it would pretty much just be a case of which room in the house!
All jokes aside, there are a few things I try and do to keep myself safe and happy online:
- Remember that posts are forever – once it’s out there, it’s out there and there’s almost no amount of deleting or backtracking that can undo the damage if you’ve upset someone. The fact that my dad and some people I work with follow me on social media keeps me in check. If I’m saying something I don’t think either of those people would like, I don’t post it.
- Social media doesn’t have to be a bad thing – Social media can be amazing in so many ways. It allows me to keep in touch with my best friend who lives in America and feel closer to her. It allows me to share ideas with like minded people and have a laugh. If I constantly think of social media as this beast that’s trying to trick me or trip me up then it’s not fun any more. And remembering that it’s just somewhere to have fun, in turn keeps me more chilled, and what I post less serious, therefore keeping me safer
- Privacy settings are there for a reason – following naturally from the above, if you’re not having fun or you’re getting stressed out by what you see or who is contacting you on social media then you need to make use of the plethora of security settings available. Boot people off your account and lock it if someone is being a nuisance. I’ve blocked many people who, for whatever reason I feel have no business being in my life. It’s actually very liberating.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt – written words don’t always translate as well as if you were having a conversation with someone in a pub. It’s easy to misinterpret what someone has said or done. What you’re seeing could easily be a snapshot of wider context that you’re not aware of. And you know what assuming does…! Think the best, until you know all the facts before you react.