Social media privacy

19 February 2016
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Facebook and other social media sites are concerned with your security and privacy and I’m not suggesting that they aren’t, but their security is only as good as your gossipiest connection.

Here’s what most people seem to forget, social media is about being social, and so the whole thing wouldn’t work if security settings actually made your posts secure from everyone.
Security settings are designed to stop people nefariously gaining control of your account or viewing your posts. However, your friends are given every access to the content you post – that’s the point after all.

Unfortunately, your audience (your friends and acquaintances) is the greatest threat to your privacy. No matter how great your security settings are, all it takes is one person on your friends list to copy your picture or comment and make it very public (Note: This is rarely done maliciously, but instead happens because the image was “just so cool”).

When I bring this up in our training courses I sometimes get the response “why do I care?” Or, “great, most of my posts don’t even get any likes.” And I understand this sentiment. From a PR perspective getting other people to promote your posts is a dream come true… but remember, a crisis changes everything.

An obscure post can become a front page headline. An image that you think is benign can become an instant scandal when taken out of context, and while more robust security settings will reduce the risks of such, they certainly won’t eliminate the potential for a leak.

If you or your company is involved in a crisis of any kind, avoid posting content to your personal social media accounts until pressure on your organisation has significantly subsided. Also, be careful messaging or emailing family and friends. Anything that can be copied may find its way into the public domain.

A crisis is a great time to pick up the phone, use Skype or FaceTime and actually talk to your loved ones. These conversations can be a great way to deal with the psychological stress you’ll be under and help reassure people who may be worried about you. Critically, such conversations don’t leave an image or a text trail that is easily copied (although of course even such conversations may not be 100% secure).

Don’t be fooled by the security efforts of social media platforms – they can help a lot, but they don’t truly protect your content. Instead, in a crisis, put your apps away and just use your phone as a phone!

Dustin Eno
COO & Crisis Response Manager

T: +44 (0)20 3326 8467

Twitter: @dustineno

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