I want to share a incident that happened to me last weekend. In between work projects and running around being a chaperone for my daughter….I received a voicemail on my cell phone. It was one of my Facebook friends, not someone who I know particularly well, but definitely a Facebook acquaintance. He said that my mobile and landline number both popped up on his Facebook phone application. And, not just my number but the numbers of 15 other people as well. I was not happy about this, and asked him to somehow send me a screenshot of whatever he was viewing. I wanted to immediately get to the bottom of the situation.
Like most, I’m a private person and I don’t share my cell number or landline on Facebook or any other social platform. Prior to this incident, although privacy was on my mind, it wasn’t necessarily top of mind. Maybe it should be. When I think about this scenario, what really concerns me is the sharing habits of younger people … the teens or tweens who openly and willingly share information to people they think they know or trust.
The purpose of this post is not to have every parent, who has a child, up in arms and ready to block Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Tumblr and Formspring (a popular site among teens where you can “ask, answer and learn about friends”). However, it is an ever so subtle reminder that we should be careful for ourselves, our families and take the time to monitor more closely the activities of our children. That weekend, it didn’t surprise me when I was reading an article in the Asbury Park Press about a study by TrustE and Lightspeed Research that said, “70 percent of parents monitor their teens profiles, at least once a month.” It was refreshing to read that 70 percent are on board with the monitoring, but the “at least once a month” should increase depending on your child’s active participation.
Anyone who knows me realizes that I’m a huge proponent of social networking to collaborate with people and cultivate relationships. Of course, as we do this, it’s important to focus on privacy and to be role models for our younger social networking peers and family members. I can’t quite explain how or why my number showed up on someone else’s Facebook phone app, but it makes me want to ask this question, “How private are you?”