Better than you treat yourself... Facebook recently rolled out their facial recognition capability. This means that when you upload a photo, Facebook tries to figure out the different people in the photo to make it easier for you to tag them (name them) in a way that can be seen or searched for by others. Yes, as individual Facebook users we can control whether and how others tag us, but it’s not easy and that’s what has people up in arms --- again. Facebook seems to follow the act first, apologize later mode of change. The pundits I listen to  (e.g., Leo LaporteGina TrapaniJeff Jarvisof This Week in Google/TWIG) side with the idea of “opt in” rather than Facebook’s, opt out approach. That is, the TWIG group would rather, as would I, that Facebook enable the capability, but that the default option be that you cannot be identified by others unless you expressly give permission. (How to disable Facebook’s facial recognition from suggesting that an image is of you.) So how do you treat your friends better than you treat yourself?

  • Don’t tag them unless you know they are happy with being tagged.
  • Don’t publicize friend’s whereabouts without their permission.
  • For your most privacy conscious friends, don’t mention them in identifiable ways.
  • Help friends who are less social network savvy adjust the settings on Facebook and elsewhere such that they reflect their own wishes -- not those of the site.

How should you treat yourself? Check your own privacy settings in all your social networks and make sure they are consistent with your preferences. Just like you change the batteries on your smoke detectors at Daylight Savings Time (you do, don’t you?!), check your social network settings on the same schedule or anytime you hear a ruckus about something new. It’s plugged-in to be in control of your settings.  It’s being a good friend to support friend’s privacy wishes. We are living in a complex and quickly changing world. People aren’t always sure of the best options, the technology changes at the whim of the provider, and our organizations are still trying to catch up. Make your own decisions and make it a point to help those who might not know how to represent their own wishes. Please share other advice on how to treat your friends on the social web. Any other simple rules that work?