Warning for Facebook, Twitter users
FACEBOOK and Twitter users should not say in private what they don’t want to be made public.
This is the advice from the former head of social media in President Jacob Zuma’s private office.
The advice by a master’s student, Sunil Gopal, comes as The American Consumer Report last week revealed most Facebook users worldwide were sharing too much information and simply ignored privacy settings.
Gopal said the recent Twitter storm over racist tweets by model Jessica Leandra dos Santos was an example of how private thoughts could easily be exposed to the wider public.
“Many people are unaware other members of the public can easily view their comments and profile information.
“They are under the impression only their friends and followers can see their thoughts, feelings and actions.
“However, literally thousands of others are now privy to one’s personal information, from where you are and what you’re doing, to being able to view your private holiday pictures.
“With the introduction of the Timeline facility on Facebook, it is possible thousands of others can see your views and pictures connected only by a common friend,” he said.
Two weeks ago, Dos Santos tweeted to 2 591 followers: “Just, well took on an arrogant and disrespectful k****r inside Spar. Should have punched him.”
Her racist post was retweeted with thousands retaliating including another model Tshidi Thamane, who called for all whites to be killed.
Gopal said South Africans were sharing too much information on social networking sites because they are unaware of the implications.
“Employers and potential employers also pick up information on social networks so one needs to be circumspect about what one posts online.”
Gopal said South Africans were generally unaware of the privacy setting to restrict information to only friends and followers.
“South Africans need to take steps to restrict their privacy settings on social networks so only those they want are able to see their information.
“Open profiles on Facebook allow anyone to see all your information. It is also possible to restrict who views what on your Facebook profile by listing people as close friends or acquaintances. More importantly don’t accept friend requests from anyone and everyone”.
The American Consumer Report also found that Facebook users exposed themselves to crime such as burglary by utilising the checkin facility, which told criminals that they were not at home.
Gopal said there were no reports in South Africa to show information on social networks were being used to commit crimes.
However, he added, it was only a matter of time before criminals woke up to the potential mine of information on social networks.