why do so many people just not get what it means to post publicly on the internet?

again and again this comes up at muds or user support and it drives me up the wall. people post “for everyone” and for some reason they seem to think that this doesn’t actually include everyone in the whole universe.

it’s come up when talking about the “fan” suggestion – oh, some say, but that means other people will be able to see my [public] posts in their inbox. well, duh, don’t post anything publicly that you don’t want strangers to see, because, guess what, they already can!

and now it’s come up again when discussing a suggestion to make it easier to share [public] posts on twitter and facebook – people voicing discomfort about the idea that someone would tweet their [public] posts. well, duh, people already can! the suggestion is just to make it easier to do something that is already possible.

what am I missing?

sorry if I’m being a bit of a mother hen…

… but I care about you guys, okay?

In the time I’ve been on the internet, I’ve learned a few useful lessons. I started out pretty naive I guess, just chatting with people on a forum that I stumbled upon and enjoying the friendly banter, without realising that actually we were conducting those friendly conversations in a place where everything we said would be kept forever where anyone in the world could read it… when I signed up to that forum I used my full name as a user name, and it was years later, after the arrival of big brother Google, that I realised that anyone who knew my name could Google me and find all those silly comments… bolting the stable door way too late, I then set up a new user name on that forum.

Here on Multiply I feel much safer, because here I can choose to make some posts public and to keep other posts private – that’s one of the things I value so much about this place, that Multiply does provide us with some excellent privacy settings. However, these settings are absolutely useless if we don’t use them. It’s like having an umbrella in your bag, going out in the pouring rain and saying: I won’t get wet, I’ve got an umbrella in my bag.

There’s a really good tutorial about the Multiply privacy settings here, but one thing I want to point out, as it’s a pretty crucial thing which I think not everybody is aware of, is this:

posting “for everyone” means anyone in the world can read your post.

yes, anyone in the world. that includes your next-door neighbour, it includes the people serving you in your local shops, it includes your second-cousin in some faraway country whom you’ve never spoken to, it includes that guy/girl you used to have a crush on in your teens, it includes the person you’ve secretly fancied for the last decade, it includes your son’s schoolteacher, it includes your boss, your employees, your colleagues, as well as people who don’t know you at all.

I think it’s wonderful the way we can get to know people here, and develop a sense of community online. It’s great. There are people I’ve got to know here that I feel very comfortable sharing personal stuff with, whilst there are some people out there in “real life” who think they know me but in fact all they know is the outward stuff like what I look like, where I live, who my husband is.

so there are things I post just “for contacts” and that’s how I keep these things within the privacy of this community. and there may be things I choose to share just with certain contacts, and Multiply enables me to do that too – so I can post something just for Tom, John and Sarah for example.

and yes, there are many blogs that I post “for everyone” – but when I make that choice, I do it knowing that this means anyone in the world can read them. it means I’m okay about sharing this stuff with my next-door neighbour or my cousin in Australia or my in-laws or my ex-colleagues or whoever.

Multiply has excellent privacy settings – but if we don’t use them, we may find ourselves in some very awkward situations.