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Social Media Rule #1 – Everything posted online is public

Social Media Rule #1: Everything posted online is public

This Christmas picture shared on Facebook went viral, much to the embarrassment of the Zuckerberg family. (You know, that guy Mark who founded Facebook…)

Social Media Rule #1: Everything posted online is public

It seems that even Mark Zuckerberg’s older sister, Randi, has become a victim of Facebook’s totalitarian privacy settings. Forbes “30 under 30? media honoree Callie Schweitzer tweeted the above photo of the Zuckerberg family, writing “@randizuckerberg demonstrates her family’s response to Poke #GAH.”

Zuckerberg responded, saying, “Not sure where you got this photo. I posted it only to friends on FB. You reposting it on Twitter is way uncool.”

Quote from Salon.com, December 26th 2012

I enjoyed the irony that the man who created Facebook got bit by Facebook on Christmas day.

He broke social media rule #1: Everything posted online is public. 

The only privacy online is perceived privacy as you ultimately can’t control what others can/will see.   If you post something online, even on a private account or using an account name which isn’t your real name, or even with all the privacy settings set so only your friends can see it… it’s still online and 100% public.

You can’t delete it. You can’t hide it forever. You can’t assume no one will find it.

Instead, you have to assume it’ll always be out there, found over and over again whether you like it or not.

Yes, it is in the best interest of a social media site to create and honor privacy settings. But all of that is just perceived privacy as they can’t truly control what others will do or they will do accidentally.

At any time you need to know that anything you post on a social media site… even in direct message, with Facebook messenger or chat, or another private messaging system… has the potential to become public.

You have to always use social media with the understanding that it’s all public. 

Want another example?

In the ever-emerging saga of Steubenville High School’s alleged “rape crew” social media is providing the most damning evidence. Images posted to Instagram and Twitter (including who liked and commented on them) as well as video from YouTube has been threaded together to create a horrific timeline of events for the world to see.

The kicker? Once students (and their parents and parents lawyers) realized what was online most of it got deleted. And then the hacker group Anonymous undeleted it all, setting up their own website to draw attention to it.

Wait what? How did they do that? Things posted online can’t ever be deleted, just hidden from regular users view. Those people thought they deleted it but stuff on the internet never goes away.

Want to know more rules for social media?

A Parent's Guide to Understanding Social MediaWe go deeper into this and several more social media rules in my book, A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Social Media.

Available at Amazon in soft cover or Kindle. Also available at The Youth Cartel & Simply Youth Ministry. Or learn how to get it for free.

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6 Responses to Social Media Rule #1 – Everything posted online is public

  1. prsmama January 2, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    I just don’t get this. I’d like to understand exactly how stuff is not private. How does something I post only to my friends get ‘out’? Unless I’ve done something bad or illegal and the police tech specialists go combing through my computers, how would my everyday run-of-the-mill pics and info get out onto the web (from facebook, for instance)?

    • B Box January 4, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

      Because it’s hidden, not actually private. Things can be crawled, people can save and share your things even if you think you can trust them, someone could hack you or one of your friends. Nothing is safe, nothing is private and if you don’t want it on the internet then don’t put it on the internet, period.

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