Late Enough I Ask Advice Button

I Ask: Do I Have A Right To Expect Privacy Or Am I Just More Blog-Fodder?

Late Enough I Ask Advice ButtonI don’t consider myself particularly naive. I’ve LIVED. I’ve seen and even been the HUMAN CONDITION.

But I have had a few incidents lately that make me wonder if I am fooling myself about the Internet and privacy.

Here’s one example: I answered a question that someone posed on her Facebook business (fan) page because I honestly thought that she was looking for help in deciding how much to pay a babysitter. So I posted, as my personal profile, how much we pay our babysitter, why we wouldn’t pay less, and how much more other people have charged us. She also asked where we lived so I included that information as well.

The following day, I noticed her tweet out a link to her 11,000 followers on Twitter stating that she had asked about babysitting rates. Curious and thinking it was a blog post summarizing it by state, I clicked. I was wrong. She had just linked to her Facebook status with all of our answers listed underneath.

Which meant that not only was my full name next to my answer listing exactly how much I’ve paid for babysitting, but my profile was also clickable. I happen to keep my profile page very private on Facebook so you can only see my blog posts and my hilarious generic status because I’m a genius. But what if I hadn’t been so strict on my security settings? What if I was just thinking that I was helping another mom and now thousands of people could scroll through my profile?

Honestly, I DID think that I was helping the person BEHIND the company. I run my blog that way. I believe we are helping each other. And if I ever link to you or to discuss a topic that you have inspired, I either email you or I disguise the discussion enough that you aren’t traceable or both.

And I would’ve been fine if she had done a blog post gathering up our information and presenting it even though that’s not how I interpreted the question posed. Now I feel like it was just a company who wanted something that people would be interested in viewing and was too lazy to even re-write the answers in a meaningful way.

I haven’t broached the subject with the website owner because I’m not sure if I’m just stupid. And, of course, Scott doesn’t think it’s a big deal at all.

So I ask: Am I being over-sensitive? Is this the nature of Facebook and Twitter or do I have the right to expect others to give me basic protections? Are we all just blog-fodder?

The answer that came over email from a student in my Art of Blogging class that made me go DUH. She says: About your babysitting rates FB post, you can delete your own post(s) by scrolling over the top far right corner of the white space of your post. You’ll see the X.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

27 thoughts to “I Ask: Do I Have A Right To Expect Privacy Or Am I Just More Blog-Fodder?”

  1. That’s a really interesting question. Because I am so, so oversensitive about that, that even though I’m the same Marinka on Twitter, Facebook and Blog, I never assume that it’s ok to use something that someone tweeted on my blog without checking with them. So the point is that I am a better person than your friend and probably a lot prettier, too.

  2. While what the other person did may not be very polite, I don’t think you should “expect” others on the Internet to respect your privacy. While they should, you’d be surprised how many people do NOT realize how unsafe the Internet is. My husband works in information security and a big part of his job is informing the university he works for on the perils of trusting technology and the world wide web.
    And while that person’s actions were obviously unforeseen – hope for the best but expect the worst. You never know how ignorant some people really are.

  3. Privacy stuff freaks me out a little bit. Once my email was hijacked I got a little more interested in internet privacy than I once was. Watching Dateline (or one of those shows) I saw a piece about some “business” using a picture off a lady’s family blog of HER SON getting people to send money for black market adoptions. THAT freaked me out, yet I still haven’t made our blog private – though I am getting closer and closer to doing that since I KNOW there are people I do not know that follow it. I once had a map on there that tracked where people were viewing it from. I took it off cuz it freaked me out that there were people in OK were reading my blog…and I don’t know anyone in OK. However, both our parents have friends that read it. Robby once said hi to R over the internet during a broadcast using our address in his greeting and I totally freaked out. He got reprimanded when I saw him next. So, yes and no to your question. By the way, I’m off to make my blog private right now.

  4. That is one of the reasons that I would keep my private fb personal page locked down with as much privacy as I can. Jameson is actually more sensitive to it than me, but he does teach in an inner-city school and who knows if some kid would decide to go psycho on us! I WOULD 100% send a message to that biz owner. All biz owners have to respect personal information – actually there are LAWS regarding this. That extend to the internet. If they are showing a screenshot that shows your personal fb page, they are supposed to get your explicit permission first. FTC can shut them down and fine them some big bucks for not having written permission. Most biz owners don’t know that… until they get an official letter with a big fine. Ok I’ll stop now. But if anyone is a biz owner and has questions about that… email me and I’ll send you in the right direction.

  5. I wouldn’t ever comment on her site any more, and I would probably tell others not to as well. I’m sure she protects her privacy zealously (hence the business site) and to have the same respect for others is rude.

  6. What she did was definitely rude, but privacy probably can’t be expected online. I actually think parents who freak out about showing pictures of their kids or names are misplacing their fear (statistically most of the people to fear are ones in real life. I did too much research after I confronted my own fear of this), but I will admit that identity theft is a possible problem and if you cringe at the thought of anyone else copying a picture, this is a reason to take it off. That said, most identity theft isn’t from places like facebook (and for that matter, someone can put a fake profile of you on facebook without your consent, so not being on the site won’t protect you). But I realize that isn’t what you are asking. Can you expect privacy? Probably not. Was that woman totally rude? Yes! Who does that?

    1. It’s not that I’m worried about my children’s pictures or safety from an Internet predator because I’m very aware that my children are at highest risk for abuse by someone we know and trust. I’m more concerned about keeping their names private because of Google searches. I want them to be able to have their own identities online without having to deal with posts or tweets showing up about them putting poop in the vents of their rooms.
      And I guess that I was bothered by my business deals with our babysitters going out to so many people. I tend to feel like money is no one’s darn business. But I should’ve sent it to her privately then.
      And I kept thinking: what if I didn’t have my privacy controls in place? Facebook errs on the opposite side me and after all my work protecting my children’s names, I dropped the ball this way?
      But it’s probably a far-reach that someone would start posting their names somewhere. So maybe I’m not even sure why it bothered me so much. The common courtesy or lack thereof? I don’t know.

      1. That is a really good point Alex. I use my daughter’s name, but not the full name (so I imagine that would prevent some awkward google searches, but you really never know with the internet and I’m not terribly web savvy), but oddly enough, I just don’t post many pictures of her on the website but do on my personal facebook page, and I couldn’t tell you why. I think its good that we all have lines somewhere, whatever that line may be and for whatever reason, and I do think it is common courtesy issue. But more importantly, poop in the vents? Must have missed that one!

  7. I feel that you have a valid point. I am very picky about what I put out on Facebook. I rarely have a status update and I have ignored plenty of “friend” requests. We should all be aware that though we ourselves might be kind and mean no harm, some others just don’t think about the consequences. I wonder if this person realized what she was doing and how open it left the information or if she just didn’t care.

  8. Wise to keep your profile private. I do too. I trust first until I have a reason not to. Naive maybe but it’s how I like to live. Believing the best of people.
    In this case, your trust is broken. Unfollow the group and move on to more trustworthy folks.
    It is possible that she didn’t realize so you could send her a note explaining it.

  9. An interesting question, since the personal and private get confused online. I have made the mistake of tweeting something by accident that was supposed to be more of a private matter, so I’m not perfect. But what this person did with your information goes against polte common sense.

  10. In a perfect world you would hope people would be protective of everyone’s private information. But unfortunately that is not the world we live in. So my answer would have to be protect yourself. In your case sounds like this person was just lazy or naive. Like yourself my profile is very strict on what people can see that are not friends. So it wouldn’t brother me that much other then the fact the writer did take enough time to write a post summarizing all the facts. This is a huge topic for today’s world and privacy since Facebook and Twitter makes it easy for information to be shared with millions within a second.

  11. I’ve learned to be vigilant myself about my own privacy. Some people don’t care about the privacy of others, and a lot of people don’t even consider it an issue- and assume the same for me or you.
    I would like to assume that the person meant no wrong, and merely has a different “privacy threshold”.
    Dunno.

  12. I would like agree with some of the comments above indicating that perhaps it more in the I View Online Privacy Differently Than You Do-type camp rather than malicious or even rude.

    If I think about it long enough (like with most things), I want to live in a bubble and banish my entire existence and my children’s from the internet. While I feel cagey about posting, in general, my name on my blog or widely using my full name in comment fields–mainly for professional reasons–there isn’t really anything I’d feel embarrassed having my employer find (other than perhaps the frequency that I discuss toddler and infant poop).

  13. Boy did you just hit a nerve. This is a raging question in our family. “Don’t put me on your site.” is a typical response when I ask, “You wanna be famous?” Especially when it comes to my ex and our daughter. I’ve always wanted to blog about our divorce because I’m pretty sure there are movie rights in there somewhere (I want William Shatner to play me). We’re at extremes. I think we have some of our life out there on the net but live at a “Undisclosed location”. “M” won’t put an honor student sticker on her pickup truck shaped broom because “it links our child to a location” and “She’ll be kidnapped”. She has also expressed the desire to be paid royalties for and comments or pictures I post of her. Woo Hoo!

  14. Hmmm….this is a tough one. I think by blogging, we are giving up a fair amount of privacy as it is. If we truly wanted to stay anonymous, we wouldn’t have a facebook page connected to your real name at all. In a way, while what she did was a bit lazy- I think maybe she figured that you would have certain privacy settings in place if that worried you.

    I don’t know. I’ve got my FB very private- so you can’t see anything really, I’ve even considered getting rid of the FB page altogether because it’s connected to my real name. Not like it really makes that big of a difference.

    1. Just so you know, your facebook fan/businnes page, while connected account-wise, can still hid the admins so no one can see what personal account it’s tied to. I have gone back and forth on whether to show my personal profile as an admin on LateEnough’s page and can’t even remember if it’s up or not there.

      But you want a good point because I clearly DON’T want to be anonymous. I use my name all over the place.

  15. I’d love to be all savvy and cool and tell you not to sweat it, but I would have found this unnerving if it’d happened to me. I know a lot of young bloggers (meaning early twenty somethings) are more open with their facebooks, but I just can’t get down with that. my personal page is private. all my personal photos and family and close friends are there. if I opened that up to the public, wouldn’t it open up those people and info for target? that’s why I have a fan page so I can censor what my readers see. but many bloggers have profile pages instead of fan pages. so what do we do then? and then I have met a couple bloggers in real life and have become true friends with these people. but then their blogging friends find my FB and want to add me. it gets blurry and I honestly struggle with it.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but I do think you’re right to be wary and to guard your privacy. not just for you but for your friends and fam who are connected to that. that’s what I worry about anyway.

    1. oh AND I forgot to mention that since my stalker, I’ve been diligent about leaving my real last name off things. but then not everyone else cares so much. I’ve had to ask several bloggers/sites to not use my real name. so I think that’s worth protecting too. I’m sure there are lots of people with my name out there but probably not in Portland. the harder I make it for crazies to find me, the better.

  16. Good question. I, myself, am probably a little too free with what I put on the internet for everyone to see. I’m kind of under the same umbrella of opinion that Meredith is. Mostly the real “scary” people are the people we surround ourselves with in the real world. It’s always an uncle or close family friend that turns out to be the predator, not some stranger (MOSTLY).

    Oh…and Marinka’s comment made me LOL…literally!

  17. I don’t think about internet privacy enough, I suppose, but my first thought when I read this post was, “What’s the difference in responding to her on Facebook and having it on Twitter?” I mean, I know the difference between the two, but I would guess that the business owner probably feels like if you’re a fan of her *business* on Facebook, you are already commenting on something public. Anyone else who likes her business will see what you write (unless your settings are for only your friends to see what you write, right?). So I could see a business owner wanting to drive traffic to her Facebook fan page by tweeting something she had posted there… her business Twitter account and her business Facebook page both seem like public places to me. I can see your frustration at having your bidness out for the world to see like that, but I guess I am missing how it’s different to put it on a Facebook page that anyone could become a fan of and a tweet that’s only seen by people who follow that business owner…

    1. I think that you make a good point about Facebook vs. Twitter. Although even when I’ve used a tweet by someone here, I’ve always DM’ed them about it. Although I did use one when the person didn’t respond in time.
      I guess because the Twitter could get disseminated quickly and easily with a RT but a Facebook answer can’t be sent and shared. And you can’t share a person’s status the same either. So I thought the viewer base would be smaller (and her fan page is 1800 vs. 11000). I would’ve NEVER tweeted that info to her. But I may have DM’ed it.
      I just tend to see twitter as more strangers and facebook as more friends even though so many people on my fan page aren’t my friends on my profile page. But I didn’t realize I was thinking that way until your comment.
      Maybe it is just a problem with my perspective. Thanks!

  18. In my opinion if it is on the internet then it is not private. Anything that you post on any internet site can be found and should be assumed that it is available for anyone to see. Even privacy settings on sites such as FB can be hacked.

  19. It’s such an interesting issue. As many people have pointed out, we all have personal privacy thresholds and it’s difficult to impose your desires and perspective on others (especially strangers). That being said, I think there needs to be some etiquette training around what and how you should share on the Internet. When you are running a business or you are writing a blog that has a large number of followers, I think the standards are different than if you are writing a family blog or if you are working from your personal FB page. I think privacy is definitely a relative concept in the 21st century but you shouldn’t compromise your desires. If someone crosses the line (and this person did) you should let them know.

  20. Not being oversensitive. They didn’t even consult with you to see if they could link to your facebook page. I think it’s disrepectful. I’m sorry this happened to you and it makes me wary about how I will answer questions online in the future.

  21. Yes, you can expect others to take care of you, look out for you, protect you. Hope for you, wish for you, rooooooooot for you. That’s what we’re all about. And because one gets it wrong, oh well, the rest of us can work hard to do get it right.

    I work hard to celebrate, understand, and learn from people who share information with me. Yes, you can expect good in people. Gotta believe it…

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