This article hits a note that’s been ringing in my head over the holiday weekend as, being gripped by suburban nostalgia, I’ve found myself flipping through the MySpace pages of old friends and relatives. Maybe it’s because I’m unusually privacy conscious, or maybe it’s just because (as a onetime BBS sysop and Internet early adopter) I’ve had a life and presence online longer than most, but I’m sort of astonished at what people will toss out in an essentially public forum for all to see: Testimonials to fondly-remembered nights of debauchery, photos in various states of undress, petty grievances expressed in borderline-illiterate terms. No doubt I’ve made the odd enemy or burned the occasional bridge with this or that blog post, but always with pretty full awareness that what I was writing might be seen by anyone. If anything came back to bite me in the ass, well, that was a calculated risk, and when it came to genuinely personal matters, I’d always been pretty circumspect.
But the sort of stuff I see routinely on people’s Social Networking Site profiles, well, I can’t help but think it’s the sort of stuff no sane person would want a prospective employer or school admissions board thumbing through. And yet, if I were in either of those latter two positions, the first thing I’d do after Googling some candidate is look her or him up on the main SNSes. I expect we’re at the start of what will prove to be a very sharp learning curve indeed. I had some more legalistic thoughts on this topic in the early days of Friendster in this old Reason piece.