Managing Your Own Public Relations

By Gabby Cox, Intern (@omgitsgabz)

When Facebook was just starting out, its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said that social media platforms are intended to make the world more open. I applaud this notion, and appreciate the growing transparency in businesses, governments, and other groups with online profiles. I’m amazed when renowned figures foster discussion on important issues with consumers, constituents, and basically anyone else using social media.

However, when Facebook altered their default privacy settings, making profiles more visible, people were so outraged that Facebook promptly issued an apology and reversed its changes. Why is openness in company-based profiles encouraged when we tend to be so private ourselves?

On the one hand, we can easily pick out the friends who are “too open” through social media, who disclose their everyday details to hundreds of friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter. On the other hand, I know plenty of people who extensively censor themselves by untagging pictures, deleting items from their newsfeed, changing their profile pictures the night before a job interview, and making their profiles limited. Since Facebook is so public, with its home page consisting of real-time updates from friends, I can’t help but notice the way people manage their own “public relations” with social media. Essentially, we tailor our profiles to project a particular image of ourselves through social media platforms.

Although this seems to defy the “openness” that is innate in social media, I know very few people who don’t utilize privacy settings and are not self-aware of what information about them is being shared. Is there a fine line between divulging too much personal information and being too private through social media, or is it all subjective?

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