When we heard of Google Zeitgeist, we got excited. “Zeitgeist” is a German term that means “the spirit of the times.” Through it, Google revealed the year’s top searches. Popular social media sites caught on to the idea as well. So, if you’re looking for ways to experience that year-end nostalgia splattered with your own memories, look no further than Facebook and Twitter.
Now we’re talking about social media. Right. These are sites where most people basically share everything. Every. Single. Thing.
Over 20 million people share their full birth date; almost five million say when they’re leaving the house; another five million share love issues; and, almost three million, well, have literally been drinking.
So if you’re wondering if these year-end features are safe enough to keep your sanity and reputation in check, see for yourself:
Facebook: Year in Review
Wonder how Facebook can possibly frame all those most-commented unflattering photos in a way that people will actually share it? All they did was use a dynamic infographic of sorts where nine banner photos constantly revolve to accommodate 20 of “the biggest moments from the year.” Only thing you could wish for is that they pause longer on the ones where you don’t actually look constipated.
Here’s how the Year in Review page looks:
These 20 photos, in their words, include “life events, highlighted posts, and popular stories.” Now, if you are concerned about privacy, your problem would be if you share too much in public. Why? Because with this feature, even those who you’re not friends with can see a version of your Year in Review.
Granted, users who access your Year in Review can only see photos depending on the level of permission you gave them. If your profile settings only show posts to friends, someone you’re not friends with can only see a collection of your profile pictures or public wall posts in there.
Still, this may not end well. Take this scenario: You post a photo of that new credit card or renewed license out of pride. That, in itself, is a hundred times unwise. You figured you have a tight-knit friends list, so your information is safe. Problem is, your last post just a minute ago was set in public, and you forgot to change it. Your information generates comments then ends up in your Year in Review, which you can’t change. Disaster not averted.
Facebook’s press release announcing the feature does not say if you can change or inactivate Year in Review.
Twitter has partnered with Vizify, an online service that pulls information from your social media accounts to present a visual biography about you. The process is relatively safe given that you have to enter your email address and authorize the app by logging in via OAuth.
The service doesn’t support protected accounts, as shown below:
Unlike in Facebook, the authorization process appears squeaky clean, minimizing the chance of someone snooping on a whole year’s worth of your private tweets.
Public account holders, on the other hand have something else to remember. Yes, they can choose whether or not to tweet their Vizify results, but should they do so, the information they share may lead to a lot of rather messy situations.
In essence, the nifty app shows a whole year of personal feelings and observations, arranged according to the most popular words used. If you’re clumsy about what you usually share, you might just end up being the person who has nothing better to say but expletives.
A Tight Rein on Oversharing
Like we often say, people’s habits can lead to information theft as much as cybercriminal activities. With the constantly changing social media landscape, features such as the Year in Review are bound to pop up and become risk factors for many people.
Here’s how you can minimize the potential damage to financial information and reputation when using social networking sites:
- Keep information out of your social media status that you don’t want your parents, crushes, or bosses to know. Remember, all it took was an all-too-honest tweet for a Cisco new hire to get fired.
- Consider the power you’re giving to strangers with every word you share. Ask the question, “Is saying ____ going to help bad guys get into my house, bank account, identity, office, etc.?”
- Think of the future. Remember that, should you get involved in a court trial, courts can use information from social media for or against you. A fresh graduate involved in a drunk driving incident was made to go through two years in prison after liquor-related MySpace photos were used as evidence.
- Always check your privacy settings every two to three months. Social networking sites sometimes update their policies in ways that might affect who gets access to your information.
- Read our e-guides on privacy and social media to find out more: “Be Privy to Online Privacy” and “A Guide to Threats on Social Media.”
For more tips and advice regarding Internet, mobile security and more, just “Like” Trend Micro Fearless Web Internet Security on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/fearlessweb.