Yesterday, The Rumpus published an interview with an undisclosed Facebook employee. In the article the employee highlights a bunch of practices within Facebook that suggest that member data isn’t as private as we might think it to be. I’ve put quotes around the word interview in the heading, because it really isn’t clear whether the interview actually took place, or maybe rather, how much of the info is really the result of an interview with a real person and how much has been filled in by the author to cover his tracks or because the info intuitively fits into the picture.

After reading several articles about the interview, I keep returning to the same conclusion I had after reading the original article: everyone is responsible for his or her own privacy. It may seem that privacy is out of our control in this technological world, but there’s a lot we can do.

In the era of instant gratification and reality TV, everyone wants to be a star – and that, immediately. The Internet gives us our chance. We’ve grown used to putting anything and everything (pictures, biographical info, financial and other data) on the Internet with such trust – closer to complete lack of concern – that I am amazed that more harm doesn’t come of it. The anonymity that loosens our inhibitions to reveal intimate secrets blends very well with the voyeurism of the Internet generation.

We want everyone to see us in our full glory and yet we demand that we be granted privacy. We can’t have it both ways. The Internet is a tool that must be used with caution, just like any other tool. If you wouldn’t dance naked in your living room with the shades up, or provide your financial info to your neighbors, why would you think it’s OK to do it on the Internet?

Back to the article, nothing in it is really surprising. Regardless of the company, some employees always have access to customer data. That’s because they need to.  While it may be implementing them a little late in the game, I’m sure that Facebook has similar rules that other companies do. It’s what happens or can happen to the data that is important. Think of the government agents who have lost computers with tens of thousands of personal records. It’s not about new laws or regulations or restrictions, because there’s always the human element involved and that is why we need to think about what we can do to ensure that our personal data is secure. If nothing else, we control the information that we put out there on Facebook and other social networks.

Maybe this interview incident will be a wake-up call to people to think about what they are doing for their own security.

Peter L