Is Privacy Management Even Possible?
In my last post (http://bit.ly/2DuPEDY ) I talked about what you need to do to manage your reputation. Reputation management by its very definition involves a lot of transparency. Putting yourself out there for all to see to further your career. Privacy Management is at the opposite end of that same spectrum.
You may wonder in this day of social media if it’s even possible to have any privacy. Businesses today are investing in sophisticated technologies collecting as much information as they can about customers and prospects in order to market their products and services to them. Have you ever searched for a product online and then noticed pop-up ads for that same product showing up on websites you visit? And there is a dark side to this as well. Online scammers can use this information to attempt to exploit you and put you at financial risk.
Thomas Frey, in his post on 12 skills needed for the future (http://bit.ly/2yFqvos ) argues “The free flow of personal information that respects privacy will do just the opposite, fuel and cultivate innovation.” Yet currently, this legal framework for determining what is private and what isn’t does not exist.
Isn’t Privacy Our Right?
We do have a right to privacy in this country. We used to assume everything was private unless we chose to reveal it. Today that assumption has been turned around. Now, you must decide in advance what you want to keep private, and then take steps to do so.
Unfortunately, most of us never even give this a thought. We just go ahead and merrily tweet away, or post things on Facebook without ever thinking about the consequences. Think those Facebook posts don’t matter? Guess where divorce lawyers go to dig up dirt for their clients? Guess where employers go to check out people they are thinking about hiring? Guess where colleges go to check out prospective students.
I teach classes on blogging at our local community college. One thing I try to impress on my students is to never, ever, put anything online you are not prepared to see on the front page, above the fold, of the New York Times tomorrow morning. And once you post it, it’s out there. Even if you try to delete it, it can be found by someone. This includes emails. Once you hit “send” you have no control over where that message will wind up. How many crises have started when someone made a derogatory or untrue comment and then hit “reply to all” by mistake.
Not to be paranoid, but…?
Whom do you confide in? Do you trust them? Before the days of social media, confidences could only be betrayed by word of mouth. Now, they can be spread across the internet tomorrow. Remember the old saying, “The only way two people can keep a secret is if one of them is dead.” I’m not advocating murder here. We all need friends and confidants with whom we can talk things over and get advice we can trust. What I am saying is be careful. Those relationships are built over long periods of time, not overnight or over a few extra drinks. The old World War II saying was “Loose lips sink ships.” All you have to do is read the headlines to know it’s still true today.
In these days of social media, you must be aware of how and what you communicate with others. Whether you know it or not, you have an online persona. You must guard it with your life and treasure. Tomorrow you will be hired or fired, followed or unfollowed, adored or disparaged by what is found about you online. Be careful what you post. One of my favorite sayings comes from Abraham Lincoln. “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.”