Yesterday we discussed Randi Zuckerberg's dismay over a private family picture being tweeted by someone after she posted it to Facebook. The sister of the social media site founder argued that it was "way uncool" and about human decency rather than online privacy. We offered
the correct an alternative perspective.
However, the story didn't end there. Apparently, the hosts of NBC's morning show "Today" – Willie Geist, Savannah Guthrie and Natalie Morales – are as clueless about social media privacy, by their own admission, as millions of others around the world are. What's worse, according to a Mashable article, the three anchors have a combined 260,000 followers on Twitter and tens of thousands of fans on Facebook, making their statements yesterday even more glaring.
Geist said, "Guys, I have to confess. I don't know anything about Facebook or privacy settings."
Guthrie added, "Okay. And also, show of hands if you understand how the photo got on Twitter. I don't quite get it myself. What's the takeaway here? We don't know either."
The takeaway here is that television journalists with considerable influence on the American viewing public have made it seem as if social media privacy is a laughing matter. Many viewers took to Twitter to express that very sentiment after yesterday's broadcast, like one individual who tweeted, "The fact the Today Show hosts don't understand how the Internet works isn't cute, it's poor journalism."
Facebook identity theft is a serious matter. The power of social media is staggering, as is the amount of personal information we post online every day. The data that can be gleaned from pictures, wall posts and "checking in" at different locations can yield all manner of details cyber criminals can use to do catastrophic damage to your online reputation and finances.
Simply put, the technology evolved faster than anyone expected, and now our understanding of how to use it safely must play catch up. If we don't take the issue seriously, no one can say the writing wasn't on the (Facebook) wall.
John Sileo is an online privacy expert and keynote speaker on social media privacy, identity theft and fraud. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent work on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.