We Know What You’re Doing
June 27, 2012

If It’s Nobody’s Business, Why Are You Telling Everyone?

John Neumann for redOrbit.com

Would you send an email to your boss about how much you really hate this meeting you are sitting in with him? How about plastering your new phone number on a highway billboard? I know, why not send a text to your parole officer telling him you just bought a new bag of weed.

Oh, you don´t do these things? You would be surprised at how much privacy you are actually shouting out to the entire world with your Facebook posts that are not as private as you thought they were.

Yes, you are tired of hearing about online privacy and you should double check your settings before posting on Facebook. Been there, done that. However, it´s remarkable how many people violate what privacy they do set for themselves on a regular basis.

If you do not think that such a thing is widespread, or is only for dumb people, a new website will show you how wrong you are, reports Andrew Couts for Digital Trends. We Know What You´re Doing (aka WKWYD), seeks to expose just how foolish many people are about what they post publicly on the internet.

The site´s search tool combs public Facebook statuses for words and phrases such as “hate my boss” and “hungover” to display posts under the headings, “Who wants to get fired?” and “Who´s on drugs?” for example. The new website was created by 18-year-old student and web developer Callum Haywood to raise awareness about the information people unwittingly share on social networks.

The site uses Facebook´s Graph API, as well as publicly available Foursquare check-ins, to automatically generate streams of brazen dumbness, angry rantings, and over-sharing from publicly viewable Facebook posts. Each post includes the user´s profile picture, and lists their first name and last initial, writes Suzanne Choney for MSNBC. In other words, there´s nothing anonymous about this and that is the point.

“I created the website to make people aware of the issues that it creates when they post such information on Facebook without any privacy settings enabled,” said Nottingham, England native Haywood. “The people featured on the site are most likely not aware that what they post as ℠public´ can be seen by absolutely anybody, and that Facebook will happily give away this information to other websites.”

““¦[T]he problem is not with Facebook themselves, when used correctly, their privacy controls are very good,” writes the developer on WKWYD´s “About” page. “The problem is“¦ people simply don´t understand the risks of sharing everything.”

Not only do some people not understand the risk of over-sharing and brutal honesty on social media, but they don´t realize that they are making these comments public in the first place. After all, if you have to log into a website in order to enter, it seems logical that everything that happens within that site remains behind lock and key.

Obviously, as WKWYD shows in stark black and white, this misconception still exists, despite the fact that these same concerns have been around for years.

There have been numerous publicized incidents in recent years of people losing their jobs after they posted incriminating or offensive information on social media pages. Haywood said he believes his site helps demonstrate how often people overshare online.

In case you´re pondering an alcohol-fueled Facebook rant about your boss and don´t want to appear on We Know What You´re Doing, it may be wise to visit Facebook´s privacy-settings page and make sure Control Your Default Privacy is not set to “Public.”

From there you can choose “Custom” privacy settings to choose who can see what. You also can change who sees an individual post from your Facebook Timeline.