Facebook & Personal Privacy

It seems as if personal privacy is becoming an endangered species. Almost all companies talk about privacy, many – including Facebook -- even have a "Chief Privacy Officer." But as Facebook users found out recently when the company introduced its Beacon service, business plans and personal privacy can sometimes clash. You can read the column for details, but among those who complained were people who discovered that details on what they bought as holiday gifts were automatically sent to the gift recipients, spoiling the surprise. It could have been worse. Imagine if someone's significant other read that his or her beloved had bought jewelry — for someone else.

Facebook changed its policies to let users more easily "opt-out" of this service but Beacon isn't the only thing that can embarrass you or worse.

Sometimes the solution is better privacy policies and other times it's just a matter of being more careful about what we reveal and who we send it to. Whether it's accidentally sending an email to the wrong person or spamming an entire group with news that you probably never meant to share, there are plenty of ways to get in trouble online. As the column details, I've been embarrassed on more than one occasion because of information that I inadvertently let leak out.