Many of us who work in libraries have a professional online profile – often linked to the work we do, these profiles are generally available publicly and can be useful for networking or as a way to provide information about who we are for our clients. Many of us also use social networks where the online profiles we create may be quite different to our professional one – often it just makes sense to keep the two separate and your personal profiles private! Also it may seem obvious, but it really isn’t a good idea to include your home address or phone number in your profile information.
Understanding the implications of sharing within large networks means that the information you present about yourself may be available to people outside of your personal network of friends. If keeping your information private is important to you then it would be wise to look closely at the networks you use, their privacy settings and be discerning when you choose to add people as your friends.
The concept of privacy can mean different things to different people. Prior to Web 2.0 people were generally concerned with institutional privacy; that is, how governments, banks and other businesses might use or misuse their information. Now people are using social networks there is more concern about their ‘social’ privacy or how, when and who can see their personal information.
As information professionals it is our duty to ensure that the personal information we have about our users is kept private. It is important that our users feel they can trust us not to give out their information to other people, and this includes information in their borrowing records such as the type of books they read.
But regardless of how careful we are with our personal information online we leave a digital footprint in our wake each time we use the internet. Data mining occurs whether we like it or not and it appears to be the price we pay for using free web platforms such as Google, Facebook, MSN and others who generate large revenues from digital advertising services. Many of the ads you see when using these sites will be directly related to key words you have entered. Personally, I like to have fun with this from time to time and will enter random keywords just to see what ads will result.