Are Privacy Concerns Keeping You Away from Social Media?

It’s pretty safe to assume that the majority of people who have the ability to get involved in social media, but stay away, do so out of privacy concerns.

Don’t you think?

I realize Baby Boomers are the fastest growing Facebook demographic, but, like you, I know lots of boomers (young boomers and older boomers) who aren’t on Facebook, aren’t on Twitter or LinkedIn, and have never heard of FourSquare.

When I ask them why, I usually get “I don’t have the time,” or “I don’t need everyone to know my business, knowing what I’m up to 24 hours a day.”

Sound familiar?

Because they’re not social media practitioners, they have a somewhat inaccurate view of how networks function, how much effort online engagement really takes, and how private – or not – they really are.

For the most part, however, the non-users – whichever generation they may be part of — don’t really care.  They choose not to be involved, don’t feel like they’re missing out on anything, and are absolutely sure that the less personal information about them on the internet, the better – and safer, they are.

I envy them, in a way, because once you are deeply engaged online, it’s really difficult – almost impossible – to pull back.

On the last point — privacy — they are probably right.  Fewer details about your personal data in cyberspace is a good thing, because in the wrong hands (like the $26 billion U.S. online-advertising industry), well….

But if you do want to participate in social media, there are more and more ways to challenge those individuals and organizations who will use your personal data for their own monetary gain.

You could join one of the growing number of social media networks claiming your privacy as their primary concern.  YoHolla is such a social network.  It’s free from advertising, for example, so intruders can’t collect data about you.  But are you willing to spend $5 per month for a membership?  And more importantly, how many in your network will join you?  After all, a social network without your friends isn’t very social at all.

Or, you could keep your eye on Diaspora, an open source alternative to Facebook that allows users to build personal servers so they can control all of the information they share.

Or, you can keep doing what you’re doing on email, Facebook and Twitter, etc., and trust that ongoing technology advancements from Microsoft and McAfee, Inc. will keep your data safe.

Or, you could become a customer of a new wave of firms, like Allow Ltd., that pay you for the opportunity of offering your personal data – including what you’re currently shopping for – to companies willing to pay for it.

Alternatively, of course, you could just stay away from social media networks altogether.  But eventually, you’d be in the minority and would be missing out on all the fun.