Social Networking Advice and What I Do

A lot of friends and family ask me for technology advice– whether it’s what computer to buy, how to lock down and backup their data, or whether or not to upgrade to the latest and greatest version of their favorite piece of software I’m often the primary source for their technology decision. I take this responsibility seriously, and always feel bad when they ask me a question I don’t know. (Examples: “What Android phone should I buy?” I generally have no clue, because I don’t have any reason to keep up on Android phones. “How do I do X on my Windows XP machine?” I don’t know… I haven’t used Windows XP for over 7 years– I haven’t used Windows on a personal machine for the last few years.)

One that comes up a lot is social networks. People are either thinking about jumping in and worried about the implications, or they’ve been using one or more networks for years but are just now starting to think about what it means to their privacy. The problem with these questions is that they are often very general, and my needs generally won’t match to yours. This excellent article from Lifehacker will be my new go-to resource to send people. It covers things about as well as you could for most users. Now with that out of the way, here’s how I use social networks…

I basically break things down into tiers:

  • Friends and Family
  • Colleagues and Work Contacts
  • The General Public

In general, I use Facebook for friends and family, LinkedIn for colleagues, and Twitter for the general public. However, often this blurs a bit. Facebook, for example, now enables subscribers, so content that I post to Twitter gets cross-posted to Facebook and marked as public. (Interestingly, while I have over 2,000 Twitter followers, I have a single-digit list of Facebook subscribers.)

The content that I post to each network is catered to those audiences– work related stuff gets posted to LinkedIn, stuff that I want to share with my friends and family gets posted to Facebook, and stuff that is general interest and public goes to Twitter.

I have a Google Plus profile, but I don’t really use it. Less than 10% of my friends are there, so it’s pretty much pointless. Also, until they allow me to import my account to my apps account I can’t really use it without login weirdness. (Google said in October that a migration tool would be available in “a few weeks.” Still waiting… perhaps weeks are longer in Mountain View.)

To make it easier to find my social media profiles, I set up subdomains…

To be clear, I never post anything to any social network that I wouldn’t want to become public. Though I post a lot of things to Facebook as “friends only” I’m doing that as a filter rather than security/privacy. I don’t trust Facebook or any other social network to keep my information private, so I don’t post private information. When I mark something as “friends only” I’m doing because it’s something only my friends would be interested in. Likewise, I know that most of my friends would not be interested in some of the work related stuff that I post to LinkedIn. It’s convenience and targeting, not privacy.Hence, I don’t get too worked up about privacy settings.