Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Social Networking-How Much Is Too Much?

A friend remarked to me the other day about her concerns for a mutual friend who is apparently addicted to social networks. She was a little irritated that someone would constantly update their Twitter and Facebook status feeds about the most mundane things and really didn't want to know that many details about a casual friend's life. That got me to thinking...in social sharing when does "sharing" become too much?

I've read numerous articles about the fine line concerning sharing ones personal life with everyone else you know who is also social networking. If someone posts something risque or controversial on your profile page for all to see do you edit their comments or pictures? Do you have the right too? Do you want to add those you work with as "friends" through Facebook or Myspace allowing them access to your status, posts, pictures and news feeds? If a library or organization has a fan page, does the owner have the right to edit comments posted on the wall?

I have my personal privacy settings set as strictly as the sites allow and have not had the need to delete a friend although I have deleted a friend's insensitive comments and honestly instantly regretted it. I believe in free speech and as a librarian it is a priority professionally and personally. But there is that thin line that I have to address as the administrator of public pages. Professionally I haven't had the need to monitor inappropriate or harmful comments but don't doubt that in the future I will. Personally I have faith that those I allow access to my personal social networking sites post contemplatively and respectfully and those comments I would never censor. In regards to my above mentioned friend's concerns, I agree that it gets more than a little annoying when I get nearly hourly updates on someones diet or love life but I do enjoy knowing that those I chose to share with are just a click away. I guess with the access comes the risk and sometimes the tendency to overshare. In my opinion if that happens address it privately before you choose to censor someone else's thought.

I host a computer group at my library every month and in February my topic was social networking sites. The most common questions I get concerning networking (whether it is with Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Bebo etc...) are about security. How do you hide your personal information? Can you restrict access to parts of your profile? Can you delete a friend?
The choice of how much to share is a personal one, if you still wrestle with the decision as I do here are a selection of good articles:

10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know at:

10 Social Networking Security Trends to Watch at: http://www.crn.com/security/208401887;jsessionid=H4LY0QHOENXMUQSNDLPCKH0CJUNN2JVN?pgno=1

Social Networks Thrive, Now What? at: http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/159992/social_networks_thrive_now_what.html?loomia_ow=t0:a16:g12:r2:c0.408799:b22047710

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