I've been asked a few times why there are no pictures of my recently born Son on Facebook. Although many people happily post pictures of friends and family to social networks, it's something that I try to avoid for one simple reason - privacy.
Social networks such as Facebook are infamous for their laid back approach to the privacy of their users, and it seems that whenever Facebook release a new feature they reset all privacy settings to something that suits their needs and not ours. Not to mention the holes in their approach.
It may not seem the end of the world if a few pictures get out into the wild, but there's a bigger and much more insidious privacy issue here.
My son and Social Networks have one thing in common, I've no idea what they will do in the future.
Given that my son could grow up to become anything, is it really fair of me to risk plastering the internet with photos of him? I'm not saying he's going to become a celebrity (although any child could grow into one), but he may one day suffer from anything ranging from harassment to acute shyness.
Using social networks means that you have to trade some of your privacy for very little real return, the networks need as much of our data as possible to target advertising and turn a profit. As an adult, I can make the decision that this is a sacrifice that I am willing to make (and I'm very reserved about what I post), but is it really fair for me to make this decision on my sons behalf?
Easily Found, Hard to Lose
I've no issue with people who chose to do so, but it's simply not something that I'm going to do. The internet is now a big part of our lives, and the number of people wanting to benefit from our data is steadily growing. Whether it be Google or an Identity thief, there are countless individuals and organisations that try to use the details we post online to our their ends. As wonderful as search engines are, they do make it very easy to find almost anything out (compared to the days of having to manually scour Bulletin Boards).
With the Internet being such a distributed network, once that information is out there it's very very difficult to pull it back in. It's far easier just not to risk it becoming available in the first place!
One day, my son may chose to sign up for a Facebook account (or the current SN of choice), and that will be his choice. In the meantime, I won't be making that choice for him and hope that others will respect this and avoid posting his data on the internet and more specifically to social networking sites.