Millions of Americans have not protected their privacy on Facebook

February 20, 2011 

Chances are you probably have a Facebook account. That means you are one of more than 600 million people around the world connected via the social network site.

Let’s hope you aren’t also one of the millions who haven’t properly protected your privacy.

Better yet, let’s hope you aren’t one of the millions of people who haven’t protected your privacy and who are saying unbelievably brainless things on their Facebook page.

There are those, of course, who think that’s the whole point of Facebook: to exchange mindless and endless banter with a lot of people you don’t really know and some who probably don’t care that much about you.

But why be cynical? Check it out for yourself at a website called youropenbook.org. The website was created by some engineers who are trying to pressure Facebook into making it simpler for users to protect their privacy.

Their software allows anyone, even those without a Facebook account, to search the “status updates” for certain words or phrases. You can see how many times the word has been used, by whom and when they posted it.

If you’re logged into your own Facebook account while you do the search, you can actually see the full profile pages of those users who pop up because they haven’t secured their own privacy.

Four days ago, Riane Canon, of Indianapolis, posted that she had an interview at Wal-Mart, but told her Facebook friends “don’t tell my boss.” While searching that phrase, I found 54 people had used it in the last couple of days, including Rich East who said last week, “Don’t tell my boss I’m hung over, actually still drunk.”

I found 96 people who “have a wart,” including one fellow who said he also smelled. Thank goodness that only 17 revealed they had “popped a pimple” recently.

Interestingly, 279 Facebook users claimed to have lost their virginity in the last 10 days. Doesn’t that qualify as over- sharing?

Or, maybe it’s just “tooooooooooo” much information.

Facebook users like Sienna Ecker add extra letters for emphasis. She wrote, “I do too,” and added an extra 61 more Os to the word, just to make her point.

While discussing his idea for a new, recurring downtown market, Olympia businessman Mathias Eichler seemed relieved several days ago when he posted this: “Phew, I didn’t commit political suicide ... yet.”

Meanwhile, Christopher “Wild Card” Kinney posted recently that his “Face turned red, voice a little shaky, but it was my first time verbally attacking Olympia city council (standing room only) at tonights city council meeting.”

Danielle Perkins, of Tacoma, who has 392 friends, is happy because, “Then I came home and I found an acceptance letter for Evergreen State College. So I am very pleased, and I THANK GOD.”

But Travco Toad, of Kent, who has only 21 friends, is upset about Porn Week at TESC. He says, “Our Washington State tax dollars at work. Evergreen State College has porn week with live performances, informative videos.”

With about 2,000 users an hour updating their status, you would think many of these people are leading exciting lives. But several hundred people used the word “boring” in their post, most often in reference to their own lives. This is not surprising to me.

But what did catch me off guard was the creative use of the letter “o” to make their sad lives even more emphatic.

Denniz Anderson put 31 Os in his boring post, but he wasn’t as boring as Noriel Briones Marquez who typed 50 Os. The most boring person of all was Nikekesumatanti Kesumatanti with 51 Os.

I’m guessing if you had a name like that, well ... but, wait, who am I to criticize?

George Le Masurier, publisher of The Olympian, can be reached at 360-357-0206 or glemasurier@theolympian .com.

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