Krista Swanson: Tech Mummy


Think Before You Post

What You Post Today May Haunt You Tomorrow

A friend of mine was at a conference for a software app earlier this month (doesn’t really matter which one) where the company announced the next feature slated for integration was a kind of auto detect feature for contacts in their database.  It would work by scanning known services such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for a name that existed and populate their software with all of the information available about that person.

So, say a company had ‘Finn McMissle, Store Manager residing at 555 MyStreet, Toronto Ontario’ in their database. The app would intelligently poll other sites for contacts named ‘Finn McMissile’ and provide the company with a list of potential matches. An employee for the company could confirm which profiles apply and now they would have a constant feed of information in their database about Mr. McMissile from their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles. They will know what you like to do, who you interact with, where your kids have hockey practice etc.

Scary huh?

Yes, I know all of this information is already out there, but when I think about the implications of one person or company having all that information available in one place at one time, and being able to change their relationship with me based on what they see about me in any given moment it really gives me the creeps.

Think about the implication, you tweet one day that you hate company X. A year later, you apply for a job with company X and once they add you to their database they see where you ate dinner last night, do a quick search and see that you hated them last year and you’re done.  Or, you suddenly stop getting invited to PTA meetings because the school board database was accessed by the chairman of the board and he knew you were on a bender 3 nights earlier. Or even worse, you post in Facebook that you and the family are headed to the circus, and that shady lawn maintenance guy that won’t stop calling shows up there ‘coincidentally.’

I guess what I’m trying to do is remind you that EVERYTHING you say and do online could eventually be in the public domain (if it isn’t already).  Remember - just because its private now doesn’t mean it always will be. Facebook is a prime example of this. Their newest features are expected to open up more information about you to external applications – and this includes things you’ve posted in the past.  Pictures long forgotten will resurface, status updates about how much you love your ex-boyfriend will potentially be visible to your new husband.

Our addiction with all things social is driving technology forward so quickly we aren’t pausing to consider the implications of what we say or do online. Security settings that lock down what people see about you at this moment might not mean anything in the future.

So, think before you post, and don’t forget to tell your kids to do the same