I changed my name on Facebook. It was advice from my students about how to be really really hidden on Facebook – and so far it seems to be working. Like I mentioned last week I have a complicated Facebook set up that is failing me and a growing number of work colleagues that are directly connected to their (my) students. So I am trying to hide in plain sight.
I’m also trying to make more of an effort to read the updates about the privacy settings on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter etc etc. When was the last time you checked to see what your Facebook page looks like to someone else? It’s actually worth taking the time out to take a look. Instagram is time consuming to hide on facebook and my profile pic settings need to be set for each and every new upload. It’s easy to forget. I love this graphic that takes you through the ever changing privacy settings of facebook. The introduction of the Friends of Friends settings really made a monster out of the facebook machine.
Tackling some of the reading this week I was fascinated by the adventure that a writer from Wired Magazine embarked on. Evan Ratliff tried to vanish (you can also read about it here) I don’t want to spoil the outcome but his conclusions weren’t exactly what I expected. He set out on a mission to elude his own footprints and set the challenge to the world to find him. It turned out to be an awesome crowd sourcing event with thousands of people working together online (and offline) to track him down. Ok, some spoilers now, but they eventually find him after some pretty hard core investigations. But it took a $5000 reward and a publicity stunt to get people caring enough to dig so deep. So it leaves us wondering if all of our online evidence of existence is really all that interesting or important if people aren’t really looking for us? I mean, that was his main realisation. He hasn’t changed his online behaviour, he just realises that he really isn’t interesting enough to need to worry about how he appears online.
Can teachers apply the same logic? Are we uninteresting enough that we don’t have to worry about what is online? I’m really not so sure. My 14 year old students love a good scandal and I’m sure would love to find dirt on their teachers online and we all know that it is becoming increasingly likely that your next employer will search for you online before deciding to hire you. So it really brings us back to our key discussions from week one. Be aware and purposeful about who you are online. If you are engaged in activity online then you can’t expect complete privacy.