What scares me is what I don't know.
In an effort to simplify computers, companies have been offering "help" in their software. A good example is Microsoft Word. Every once in a while Word will "help" me with a document I'm writing. I have to spend the next 10-15 minutes on Google trying to learn how to undo what Word added.
Social Media - Facebook in particular - wants to make their sites easy to use. But they also want to create a feature-rich environment so that more people will want to use more of it. That's a big challenge, and a lot of decisions are made for you.
Did you know about the hidden inbox where Facebook parks what it thinks is SPAM. I only discovered it last week. Entrepreneur Magazine recently ran this article:
(You can click on that headline, and the article will open in a new window.)
Fortunately, none of my friends/acquaintances tried to use Facebook to contact me with important news. I haven't missed any tragedies or job offers. (Unlike what some people reported in the Entrepreneur Magazine article.)
I'll often create a Facebook Post, and limit the audience to Just You. When I'm satisfied with how it looks and with what it says, I can go in and redirect it to any of the other people categories I've created. (Friends, Family Distro, etc.)
But Facebook has this private post for their own use whether I even post it; Facebook also has all the iterations that had been automatically saved while I was creating the post. They know what I wrote even if I erased all the content and chose to leave the page!
Unlock your front door...
As far as I'm concerned, just using a Facebook account (or Linkedin, etc) is like leaving the front door to your home unlocked whether you're away or at home; awake or sleeping. You cannot feign surprise if you look up and find a stranger there - or has been there.
Here's my advice. (Take into consider that it's free...)
- Use only the minimum information when creating a new account.
Usually a site requires only a name, email address, and a password. Occasionally, a site will require a birthday. I'll give my name, create a unique email address for just that site, and sometimes even lie about my birthday. Of course I carefully record all of this in a TXT file in my computer for future reference.
- Decide up front whether you are going to make this a personal account (friends & family) or a professional account. Everything you enter should be from that perspective. Sometimes I'll recommend two accounts: "Rick Jaggers" (friendly) and "Richard Jaggers" (business). My business contacts don't need to know about anything my cousin's birthday...
- Read all you can about privacy, and lock your account down before you write your first post or upload your first picture. Google for additional hints: ("facebook privacy")
You can open it up later, as you feel more comfortable, but once anything "escapes" onto the Internet you can never bring it back home. I once found my 1995 resume on an archive website.
- Enable all possible notifications you can find about the site; when someone posts something about you, etc. Turn off "promotional" or "marketing" or "partner" email settings.
- Be very cautious about "inviting" your friends. They may not like you adding their name or email address to a social website.
However, you can use the site's people search function to see if they already have an account, and it's OK to ask to connect through that account.
- Now you're ready to use the site. But go slowly....