Written on February 28, 2010 at 8:13 pm
Facebook and other social media tools connect us with new friends, old friends, co-workers, high school classmates, etc.
Is this always a good thing?
A friend in middle school became disturbed in high school (for storytelling sake, let’s call him Ahab). Technically I’m pretty sure Ahab’s a paranoid schizophrenic and from anecdotal accounts of close friends of mine, he became violent, paranoid and pretty crazy. I think his family eventually had Ahab institutionalized. I really hadn’t thought about him in years.
Fast forward 15 or 16 years and in today’s age of instant access to old friends. He requested to be facebook friends with a friend of mine (let’s call him Joe). Once the friendship request was accepted, Ahab sent Joe a scathing email where he blamed Joe for all of the problems in his life, tried to extort money out of him and said he knows where Joe’s family lives and will do them harm if he doesn’t pay.
So Joe did the responsible thing and called the police, they advised him to keep all the threatening messages, but delete his facebook account and after tracking down Ahab’s family, Joe found out Ahab at least lives out of state (and has been off medication for over a year). So Joe and his family are concerned, but much less so knowing that Ahab lives far away.
Scary story and absolutely true except for the names.
Hearing this got me thinking about what I divulge online. On twitter I’ll happily share the names and pictures of my kids, where I am (via foursquare) and other personal details about my life (where I work, where I’m going on vacation, etc). On facebook I post photo albums to share with friends and family. One personal detail I’ve always left out is my home address, but I have friends who have added their homes to Foursquare and checkin when they get there.
I think social media is one of the last nails in the coffin of privacy and for the most part I’ve accepted that and would rather engage and share what I want to share without fear of deranged people.
A lot of internet privacy stories are ridiculously sensationalized by the media. (Tangent thought: pleaserobme.com is a joke, ok, as a friend tweeted to me about this story: “Know what else tells robbers where you are besides Foursquare?? Being a reporter on a scheduled nightly newscast!!”)
But after hearing horror stories like the one above, I at least need to pause and think about what I share.
Do you? Does this give you pause for concern? Let me know in the comments below.
Related Posts (automatically added):
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.