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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Facebook: Research Shows Your Privacy at Risk

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 23rd 2010

internet privacyI was recently teaching a stress reduction course at UCLA and one of the initial questions I asked people was where they experience stress in their lives. A number of people talked about stress at work, stress over relationships, stress about world events and a surprising amount of people talked about stress over privacy in this digital age. If you want to keep your personal information safe, you may not be covering all your bases.

"Birds of a feather flock together" is a phrase that two MIT students have been raising in their experiment to see whether your sexual orientation can be guessed simply based on your friends on Facebook. They created software that predicts sexual orientation off of Facebook. This may be irrelevant to some who are openly gay, but very relevant to others who would rather keep their sexual orientation as part of their private life.  This software is obviously not 100% accurate, but has interesting implications. Do you want to keep your religious life or maybe your personal health private?  


What else can people find on your Facebook that you may have not wanted to be public information?

As many of us know, teens and others nowadays are throwing up their sexual exploits on Facebook and pictures outing their drug use. The common answer I hear from teens when I bring this topic up is, "So what, people know I party, I don't care who sees." This potentially shortsighted view has many implications that we're already seeing out there as more and more companies and recruiting agencies are looking at the web to find out background information on people.

That thought isn't just about teens, but for adults too.

It's getting more and more difficult to keep information private in this day and age. Here are some suggestions:

Make sure you set your Facebook function so only friends can see everything

Make sure not to just agree to every friendship, really consider if this is a person you want viewing all your private information because they can likely glean most of it from Facebook.

In the world of substance abuse, there is a saying, "think through the drink." In other words, before you write or add something into Facebook, just take a moment to think past the post and consider any potential eyes that may see this that you wish hadn't.

To see other write ups on Facebook, see Past Loves and Facebook: To Connect or Not to Connect & What Everyone Should Know About the Dangers Facebook Poses to Your Relationships. 

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a rich living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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