It’s only an option if you know you have a choice

Tell the world!

I have backlogs everywhere and am probably the worst person in the world at keeping up with my social networking updates. If people only knew about my life through my sporadic social updates, they’d think I was still “Having a good time at Steak and Ale, about to go see this new Gladiator movie.”

In one of my few and far between surfacings for air, I saw some important offerings in the blogging world addressing privacy and security issues of our currently beloved social tools, Twitter and Linkedin.

Graham Cluley put out a blog this morning about Twitter’s efforts to begin default HTTPS usage, starting with a small percentage of users. The option to choose an HTTPS connection, however, is available to all Twitter users, and can be enabled through the settings page (at the bottom).

HTTPS encrypts your normal HTTP traffic across the network, protecting the data being exchanged and the identification of the exchanging parties. This was publicly popularized for banking and purchasing transactions but is making its way into other facets of the internet.

It’s always a smart move to choose HTTPS for your connections into social networking sites. No matter who you are or what sort of details you share with others, every user should be concerned about their privacy and protection of the ownership over their own accounts. For those who like to connect to public wi-fi spots, this is especially important, as open wi-fi leaves you vulnerable to eavesdropping by others.

Facebook offers HTTPS as well, so search out this setting and enable it if it isn’t already enabled. HTTPS is of course important to your security, but there are plenty more settings on Facebook and elsewhere that may be of concern to you regarding usage of your private data.

Rik Ferguson recently blogged about Linkedin settings dealing with social advertising, which would use your own personal information in some of the ads put out across the Linkedin site. This would include your name and profile photo integrated right into the advertisement, giving the appearance that you personally endorse a product or service. I already have a big enough issue with buying shirts smeared with the name of the department store. Where’s my discount for free advertising? They should pay ME to wear these shirts.

To disable these advertising options on Linkedin, go to your settings page and click on “account” in the bottom left. Rik walks you through it on his blog here.

Spend some time today, and periodically (new defaults pop up all the time), digging through your social networking settings and opt out of what you don’t want. Pay attention to what you’re agreeing to when you sign up for a new service. Your safety and privacy could be at risk. And stop buying T-shirts with the store name on them. That’s just wrong.

Matt Sully

Tell the world!

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