Privacy and security within social media is a very hot topic, and Facebook in particularly has been dragged over the coals on multiple occasions for what has been perceived by many as a very casual, even flippant attitude towards the safety of their users.
But here’s the thing: unlike Twitter, Facebook – despite attempts to the contrary – is not really an open, public network. While the history of Mark Zuckerberg’s baby is littered with controversial default privacy settings, if you make just a little effort with your Facebook settings it’s fairly easy to ensure that your daily updates, likes and other interactions are protected from uninvited guests.
This isn’t the case with Twitter. You only have two options: everything you say is public, or everything you say is protected. The vast majority of users wisely choose the former option, as Twitter is an open network. The things you say are meant to be seen by others. Even people you don’t know. And thanks to functionality like retweets, Twitter encourages you to share information with your network, who will often pass that message on to complete strangers. And vice versa.
And while most of us get along with that just fine, sometimes things go horribly wrong. And it’s at these moments that we realise that Twitter isn’t a particularly secure medium for communication. That is, of course, the point, but, given enough time, it’s incredibly easy to become complacent over something that’s fundamentally linked to security online: the cameras are always on, and you’re always being watched.
This new infographic from security software specialists ZoneAlarm takes a look at eight of the most popular social networking sites, ranking them top-to-bottom by security, and also reminds of us of some highly-publicised security incidents within social media from last year.
Regular readers will be familiar with my advice on finding success on Twitter, which essentially breaks down to mastery of what I call the five Bs – be polite, be useful, be interesting, be unique and (most vitally) be yourself. In light of the ongoing concerns many have about security and privacy online, perhaps I need to add a sixth placing to that table: be sensible. Pro tip: if you write everything online with the idea that it may well end up in public one day – and that includes DMs, Facebook private messages and even email – you can’t possibly get caught out.
As much as possible the networks need to make sure that they have your back – and if they screw up or change things, they must take responsibility – but right now you simply cannot rely on anything or anybody else to ensure you have complete security. And in all probability you never will. Bottom line? The smartest way to stay secure is to put the onus back on yourself and take responsibility for the things that you say.