I recently made the decision to put some of my photos on Facebook. It was not an easy decision, as I had to consider everything from privacy to the fact that Facebook strips exif data from photos and compresses its pictures. Most of us know the privacy arguments, but for those who care about the quality of photos and the data that resides with them, they should always look at better places to put images than Facebook. Still Facebook is the web’s largest piece of real estate and everyone owns property there. That is a good way to think of the matter.
I have property all over the web, some in obvious places and others in quiet corners that only a few people can get to where passwords serve as the keys to intimate places. Facebook is not so intimate. We can make it more so by controlling our settings, but it is basically a place where others are invited into our property to look at our things especially if they co-own the real estate with us.
Our lives are our property and like actual geographic property, we need to be careful with it. In some cases we need to hold the keys ourselves and put up “No Trespassing” signs. In other cases we would do well to not be so stingy with that which we have ownership.
It is with that in mind that I have delicately started my photo uploads. It was not the first time I put property on Facebook. Usually it is other people’s property, links back to articles that address things I care about and that are already so public that I feel there is no violation in my taking some slight ownership of them by attaching my name to the link. Later I started to share my blog on Facebook as a few people wanted to read it through the hidden proxy Facebook provides.
Back to the issue of photos. Apart from journals and letters, there is no personal piece of real estate more intimate than photos and there is no quicker place to share these with others than Facebook. There has been a lot of discussion in the last week as to if this type sharing is appropriate. (I am including a link to one of the more balanced arguments on the issue here.) It is good to read up on these matters and it is good to view photos as property and consider who possesses rights to that property. Thinking of it this way dictated my own decision of what and how to share.
I have about 5700 photos. A few are like my journal, meant to be nowhere near Facebook and a few like my blog are to be found by only those who really care about the things that I love or occasionally fear. Some belong in the realms of family, intimacy, and friendship, places where people are entitled to different sets of property rights and a thing I will bear in mind when I start to upload pictures.
I think if I keep the idea of property rights in mind, then I will be okay with what I put up there. I will also use another fail safe. I will call on one of the professional phrases I hear in the workplace…..”does x need to know this?” That phrase is used when dealing with confidential information, but it also provides a good basis for what should be shared on social media and taken seriously, it eliminates much in the way of over sharing. With this in mind I start to engage in the exercise of making my property a little less personal and inviting a few others to a slightly larger piece of real estate.