Monday, February 07, 2011

Perils of Online Privacy

I know to many it would sound like I am making too big a deal, but I had to deal with several photos that while being well-intentioned they had put me into a tough spot.

On my real-life Facebook profile, a friend - a true friend, mind you, someone I've personally known for over 25 years - opened his photo albums and started scanning and posting photos.   Included in the collection were some of yours, truly, from 1983-1986 or so.

Let the record show I did not photograph any better back then than I do today!

And while some of what my friend uploaded were largely harmless - unless you consider posing in front of a car that was wrapped with several rolls of paper towels as being harmful - some were of me (and others) imbibing.   Nothing in those photos would be considered over-the-top by today's standards or even 25 year old standards.  At least, they shouldn't be considered as such, but we all know how the job market is so very tight these days.   We all know how much data is accessible online, and how hiring managers and HR departments are known for searching on employees, and in some cases firing employees for their offline activities.

So I spent Sunday going to each pic wherein alcohol is being consumed and untagging myself.  And I didn't like doing that one bit.  In some way I believed I was being unfair to my friend.  He meant no harm, surley, and even though we've stayed in touch over the years, our circle of friends have grown so far and wide that the majority of his friends wouldn't know who I was any more than would the majority of my contacts in Facebook would know him.   So with that wide berth between us, what should it matter?

Upon further thought, however, I found myself growing angry with Facebook and my friend: why should I have to untag myself in the first place?  Perhaps I don't want anyone to be able to tag me at all.  Maybe there's some who decided to photoshop a pic of something unthinkable (say, a Nazi , which is pretty universally considered unsavory) and then tags me to it.   Why am I required to untag it, as opposed to sending me a note saying you were tagged, do you wish to approve

After a time I stopped stewing, and stopped being angry with my friend.   I sent him a note, explaining my concern that a company - either present or future - might disagree that what I did in a photo 25 years ago has little bearing on me today, and I asked him to not tag me in any photos going forward that might include questionable behavior.

He's a good man, and he agreed as I knew he would.   And after thinking back to those glorious years, that probably means there aren't any more pictures of me that he can or will post.

Sphere: Related Content
DiggIt!Add to del.icio.usAdd to Technorati FavesFacebook