Facebook click can cook your goose

November 10, 2013
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(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

I reckon the Government could have saved a lot of kerfuffle with that whole spy bill drama by just setting up a Facebook account and friending all of us.

While we’re all up in arms – and rightly so – over the possibility of our government spying on us, we’re also keen to overshare our lives with anyone and everyone via social networking: from photos of our kids to details of family rows, from endless pet photos (I’ll raise my hand to admit guilt on that one, but it’s not my fault Seymour the Wonder Cat and Norman the Naughty Cat are so incredibly photogenic) to equally endless selfies, it’s all there online, cluttering up the interwebs.

Even the Pope has been at it, posing for a selfie just last week (is.gd/rJWYC3). Although I’m pleased to say he didn’t do the duckface.

National carrier Air New Zealand has been involved in a bit of an online privacy bunfight of late, demanding a nosy at the Facebook pages of an ex- employee.

The flight attendant was sacked earlier this year over a sick leave dispute and she went to the Employment Relations Authority, claiming unfair dismissal.

Air New Zealand had demanded to see her Facebook and bank details (is.gd/ xuTBzp) because it was questioning the legitimacy of her sick leave.

While she had to hand over the information she did eventually win her case, but there’s a lesson in there for everyone who uses Facebook, Twitter or any other social media sites: don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want your employer to see.

Even if you have your profile privacy set up so only your friends can sample the wondrous details of your day-to-day life, that information is no longer under your control once you put it out there.

I’m sure all those wee starlet chicky- babes who ended up starring in their own sex tapes never expected such private moments to go public, but many a disgruntled ex has cashed in on that naive belief.

The same is true for all of us: an angry friend, unscrupulous co-worker or evil ex can destroy any expectations of privacy with one click.

So next time you update your Facebook status, ask yourself if you’d be comfortable with your boss (or your Mum) reading it.

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