Social Media 101: What to do if you are concerned about privacy

facebook privacy

Social media can be a useful tool for authors and personal brands. It can help with exposure, lead to new fans of your book(s), and is an easy platform to publicly engage with your audience or other book lovers like bloggers and reviewers.

The other side of that coin, however, is murky. The last week has been a storm of revelations over Facebook and how it uses information from its users by selling it to advertisers—and, once that information has been sold, your data belongs to them forever!  You can only tighten your personal Facebook privacy and security settings so that future information cannot be sold (read this New York Times article for more information on the updated privacy security settings Facebook released this week).

Worse, Facebook has allegedly been logging data from calls and texts from Google Androids—even though Facebook says they do not sell that logged data. (This article from Wall Street Journal explains.)

Now, companies and people are taking a stand against Facebook with the #DeleteFacebook movement. Mozilla is “taking a break,” and Elon Musk has removed Tesla and SpaceX pages, among others.

So what can individuals and their brands do if they’re concerned about privacy and are considering deleting social media?

If you use Facebook and other social media, and are now unsure of whether or not you want to continue, you must consider how you are going to get your brand out there.  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Create a public author or brand page, but keep your personal Facebook settings private. Author and brand pages are public, so if anyone were to search you, those would come up. But what if your private Facebook account also shows up and strangers try to add you? By going into the Facebook security settings, make sure that only “Friends” or “Friends of Friends” can see your profile information, or even set it so that only you can see certain things like your current hometown or who you’re in a relationship with. In your privacy settings you can also make sure that your personal profile does not come up in web searches.
  1. If you plan on deleting Facebook, then you have to put yourself out there. If you’ve gotten rid of your social media presence, then you need to make up for it by putting yourself out there in person. Attend festivals, visit your local bookstore and library, go to conferences, meet with other authors or book lovers, and create postcards/bookmarks to drop off at local coffee shops or stores you inhabit. Read more in our blog post on how you can create visibility.
  1. Focus on a blog and newsletter. If you are concerned about your privacy, but want to have an online existence, then creating or focusing more on your website/blog and sending out an email newsletter to friends, family, and those who signed up is a good way to keep your audience updated on what’s going on with your writing endeavors.

This is all “new news” that exposes just how much Facebook was really using our data beyond their own advertising platform. The least we can all do right now is tighten our private security settings across social media platforms so that our personal data can’t be used in the way it has in the past.

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