My photo
I am an Australian occupational therapist, educator and researcher. I have worked as an OT in mental health, vocational rehabilitation and a private surgical hospital. I am passionate using online technology to enhance the knowledge and growth of the occupational therapy profession. In my PhD research I am looking at the role of online technologies in information management and knowledge transfer in occupational therapy. Views expressed and stories shared on this blog are my opinion and do not represent views of my employer or professional registration body.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Social Networking Dilemmas

Last month I reluctantly agreed to join Facebook to keep up with certain people who "meet" there... (yep, I'm still an old fashioned email user) and what struck me as worrying was the availability of people's information in that environment. Through the people that I knew I could see many others, their photos and their "fun". Some photos I really didn't want to see!

Because people upload your photo and then 'tag' it you immediately become trace-able. There doesn't seem to be any privacy at all. Some students told me a story about a friend of theirs who missed out on a place at University as the final step was interview and the interviewers had been into Facebook and downloaded photos of this person drunk at a party... I've heard other stories about employers doing similar things. So, although we all do silly things, Facebook and MySpace have made it public and accessible.

I've added a YouTube link on the Blog today, it's from a show here in Canada called This hour has 22 Minutes. It portrays the risks in being on Facebook, MySpace and so on...
So even though I am PRO using technology as OT practitioners and in Higher Education, I believe that it is also up to us to stay very aware of the risks and only recommend using Social Networks like these when there are sufficient guards in place to protect the individual.


joan said...

once you sign up for facebook, go to the privacy link and check out your settings. if you're trying to stay hidden you might be surprised at your exposure.

Anita Hamilton said...

Hi Joan, I'm still using facebook to keep up with certain people and to also keep track of my son in there! I find it's best just to put benign info. Cheers.

joan said...

my problem with facebook is they asked a couple questions regarding privacy when i was setting up my account. i wanted to only be in the U of A OT group and answered accordingly.

however, when i checked my privacy settings later i noticed i was linked to 'friends of friends' etc. for wall postings and other features.

i refer to this as software seduction. they ask a select few questions to give you the security that they will keep your privacy. at the same time they ignore some key questions and cleverly assume you want that information shared. it is up to the user to catch this little oversight and change the settings (which are not terribly user-friendly by design).

either that, or i just plain missed some security questions when setting up my account. if that's the case, then i'm probably not the only person who missed the questions.

since i worked in software design i am always skeptical of user mistakes that benefit a company. everything from the size of text fields, placement of text to text fields, where the curser automatically defaults on a page, images in relation to text, etc. influences how a user reacts. We don't 'read' websites, we 'skim' them typically in an "F" pattern (left to right) so it's easy to take advantage of fast readers.

My slideshare uploads