Nothing is free. Facebook is the free to you because you are the product being sold, more specifically your personal information.
Users’ willingness to share information is a key part of Facebook’s business. The site makes the bulk of its money from ads that target users based on your personal information. In 2011 the company earned a profit of $668 million and booked $3.7 billion of revenue.
It simply takes a few minutes to create a Facebook account. Only a few seconds to comment on any page or profile. Only a few clicks to post some pictures. So easy. What some people don’t realize however, is that once a comment, a picture or a link is posted, it could take a life of its own and would be very hard to remove.
Of course, Facebook allows the user to remove whatever they post on their own account, but particularly intriguing, scandalous or offensive material can be captured forever by the wrong people. Others can simply open your profile, press the print screen button and paste the picture on a different account. From then on, you have no control over where that information goes.
So what should and should not be posted? Here are a few examples:
- Comments offensive to a group of people or an individual. One local example was what the news called the “Devil On Detroit Street” who chose to make fun of a neighbors daughter. This turned into a legal battle and the lady who posted the offensive material has since had many personal threats.
- Pictures harmful to National Security or Reputation . A picture paints a thousand words, so they say. This is especially if you or a family member works in a sensitive position in the government. If say your dad is working for an intelligence agency, you don’t want to post online where and with whom you spent your holidays. And how many times do you hear of young war veterans landing in trouble for pictures during their tour that found its way to the world wide web?
- Sexually suggestive photos. We all like to go out and cut loose with our friends but with we have to be aware that most every one has a smart phone with facebook loaded and you are just a post away from being really popular on faceoobk. Use the “Grandma Rule” if you would not want your grandma to see it, don’t post it. You should also have your privacy settings so that you have to approve all photos that you are tagged in so you have better control over what shows up on your page.
- Work- related matters. Comments that you thought random could inform competitors within and outside your company about the things that you have been up to lately. I even suggest not including your boss or subordinates in your ‘friends’ list. You might post that you have a new job interview and if your current boss didn’t know about, they can now.
- Dirty Laundry. Family issues should be kept within family circles. Nobody should be interested about why you got angry with your parent or your sibling. And those who do seem to be interested, they are only after the gossip. So its better to keep things to yourself. Family issues are usually solved long before those gossips and bad rep go away.
These are just a few examples. There are no hard and fast rules. However, before you press that ‘post’ button, think a few seconds more.