Jesus has come, and yet will come. We as the Church live simultaneously in the “already” and the “not yet”. So this is a good time for us to recognize a new Facebook feature that has Google drooling, and anxious people quivering in the corner. It has officially been slowly spreading to a larger test audience, and sometime this year will probably become available to everyone. It’s called “Graph Search”.
“Facebook-is-taking-away-my-privacy-aphobia” has existed ever since the first person accidentally posted an embarrassing picture of themselves, only to realize that girl they liked could also see it once their friend clicked “Like”. Many of us have grown a little tired of seeing people tricked into “Click this button, hover over this name, put your right foot in, and shake it all about” in order to keep a certain level of privacy. But as with any internet buzz (well, not “any”….let’s say “some”), this one has a small amount of new information we should be aware of. Not because it’s scary, and allows murderers, advertisers, and rapists of have access to us they didn’t already have. But because of how much of a tool this could end up being….for good or bad.
Graph Search is basically a search engine that can reach into the PUBLIC information (or things you’ve allowed “Friends of Friends” to see), and compile results. Some people have already used it to post some pretty funny/ironic things. On this website, you can see results such as “Mothers of Jews who like Bacon”. Sadly, you can also see “Married people who like prostitutes.” (which hopefully only proves some people have a lame sense of humor) I’m sure some people could lose their jobs over things like “Companies who hire people who like racism.”, or countries could cause harm in situations like “People who live in North Korea and like Democracy”.
For a more complete overview, and how you can change your privacy settings to show up less and less in the searches that happen, check out this article written a couple months back.
But with all of this happening, and growing popularity in things like Instagram, etc…what are good practices and wisdom for us to be raising our children with? First it seems many of us should begin to use these things with more moderation, humility, and self-control. A little discretion goes a long way. The author of the “Actual Searches” site linked above said it well, “If it’d be awkward if it was put on a screen in Times Square, don’t put it on (social media).”
The other side of it is a matter of etiquette. Don’t take it upon yourself to share someone else’s life with the world. If you post a picture with someone else in it – tell them, and let them decide whether to “tag” or not. If you’ve got babysitters, tell them your policy: “Send the pictures to us and let us decide whether or not to post them. Even if you know posting that uber-cute picture of my daughter in some embarrassing situation would totally get a ton of “likes” from all your friends…someday it’ll still be floating around in cyber-space when my daughter is in college or looking for work. If someone destroys her life socially – I want it to be her parents….not you. :)”
Parents of teenagers? You’ve gotta know this stuff, so you can help teach it to your teens. Certainly, they may be more “tech-savvy” than you. But YOU are the expert on life-experience and wisdom here. YOU are the expert on trying to shed labels you may have earned when you were younger. YOU are the model for self-control and self-discipline. Model it for them, and guide them forward to using technology safely and in a way that honors those around them.
And every once in a while, “Like” something publicly….just to see how quickly you get a coupon for it in the mail…:)