For one, I also wanted to speak about our university's online privacy policies. It is not something that folks talk about very often, and it is also something that I think more people need to be aware of. I work for the University of Texas at Tyler, and as such, I am considered a state employee. With that label comes a good amount of bureaucratic baggage. Again, it is the reason that I can say some things here that I would never say over there. For one, I don't want someone from Campus News and Information calling me because I said something they may perceive as less than flattering to the university. It's the nature of how things work, and I have learned to just work with it for now. I wanted to speak about the policies in the library post because students are often not aware of how the university handles online privacy.
Before I go on, here are a couple of items for reference purposes:
- and this is the section from the UT System Policies for System Information Resources Use and Security.
The other thing I want to add to this post are some notes I took from the afternoon presentation they did at Indiana University for their Data Privacy Day event. They had a full day of events, and the presentations were made available online. They were recorded, so as I understand it, you should be able to view them later. I was able to watch the afternoon presentation by Scott Z. Wilson on "How Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Privacy Can All Coexist." These are some quick notes I took:
- In social networking, the data we put out there is up to us, unlike other contexts where you may have little choice about what gets done with your private data (say a credit card company selling their list to a third party). This means that in a social network like Facebook you control your privacy (to an extent). You have to strive for a balance between your social networking activities and your privacy.
- Social networking is here to stay, so you may as well embrace it. I think at times Mr. Wilson is a little too optimistic or cheery about the whole thing (reminds me of some L2 librarians).
- Keep in mind that you can control what you share initially. Once you publish it and put it out there, you lose some control.
- Think about what you do and use privacy settings when available. However, it is important to note that privacy settings are not everything. Privacy settings can change; just look at all the recent changes Facebook has been implementing on their privacy settings and policies. Why do they do it? Well, bottom line is because they can. In the end, privacy settings are passive measures. Ask yourself how often do you evaluate your privacy settings? Facebook, and most other social networking sites, do not want you checking them every day. Personally, I would say I check them at least once a week as of late to make sure they are working the way I want them. Yes, this does take some work, but you need to do it.
- To strike a balance then you have to be active. You have to incorporate privacy into your decision-making process, and you may have to adopt new habits (like me checking the privacy settings on FB a little more often). Think about what you post or reveal, even if it is for something as simple as making a comment in a forum others may see. And if you do say or reveal something, do be aware in the tone in which you express it. Again, to use myself as an illustration, there are things I can say on this blog I would not say in my library's blog. And even if I did say something in both places, the tone in which I say it can be very different (probably more neutral over there, less passionate, less risky).
- Privacy is elastic. It is not one-size-fits-all. What works for you is probably not going to work for me. I am comfortable with things like blogging and expressing my views and opinions both professionally and personally. Others out there might not be as comfortable, or they may wish to use a pseudonym or be anonymous (another issue of privacy). Find your comfort level and be thoughtful and mindful of your actions and expressions.