86. Privacy

Charlie Sheen just posted on your Timeline: Dude, have you seen the photos from last night, mash up. Can’t believe you did that to you-know-who’s car! Legend. Still up for Badminton on Tuesday?

In 2006 I was sitting in a pub in Esher, Surrey, Posh Town, Rich Mans Land, England, the South East bit when some of the people I was with started asking me if I was on something called MySpace.com.  I said no, that I had a life and partied hard instead of sitting on a computer and cyber-stalking people.  I branded them all fools and told them to go out and court girls and hunt foxes instead.  Of course it was only a matter of hours before my hypocrisy was realised and I became a social media user.  MySpace was crap, so I moved over to something called Facebook instead.

In case you aren’t familiar with it, Facebook is a social media database where any Tom, Dick or Harry can post up some information about themselves, upload incriminating photographs, bully helpless teenagers, troll celebrities and steal peoples identities.  Of course when you and I check the box that says we agree to the terms of use we treat them in the same way as the 10 commandments, the Magna Carta and that FBI message at the beginning of DVD’s that says you will be beheaded if you lend it to a friend.

The point is that we all understand Facebook and we know what we’re getting into.  Living over here on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula millions of miles away from home it is an ideal medium that allows us to stay in touch with our friends and families.  We have the power to decide what information we publish and what information we withhold.  I bet you any amount of money that Charles Manson’s family are on there somewhere, but you won’t see it on anybody’s “about me” section.  “About me:  I am the illegitimate son of the serial killer and cult leader Charles Manson.  I like playing badminton and going to the cinema with friends.”  Keep your eyes open…

Not only do we have the power to decide what we publish about ourselves but we also have the power to decide who can see such things.  If you want to keep your penchant for ornithology a secret, don’t put it up there.  If you want to publish it but don’t want the world and its mother to know you like staring out of the window with binoculars looking at pretty “birds” then don’t accept the friend requests.  Yes I know you only have 34 friends and your mate has 546, but really, no one will judge you on this.  Reject, reject, reject.

I spat my milk out over the breakfast table this morning when I read that 71% of the UAE population view Facebook as a “privacy concern”.  What a load of cobblers.  If you are worried about someone stealing your identity then you have no one to blame but yourself.  You shouldn’t have published the fact that you like flower arranging or your credit card details.  If compromising photographs of you are published – and I shall refrain from a hyperbole drenched description – then you can’t really blame Facebook for that and you shouldn’t have been riding the mechanical bull, nude, in the first place.

How in the name of all that is holy can Facebook be held accountable for what you get up to?  Is it the banks fault that you spend all your money?  Is it the speeding cameras fault that you were speeding?  Is it your bosses fault that you were fired for being incompetent?  No, take some responsibility.

What this really boils down to is people breaking the rules and fearing mummy, daddy and Mr. Employer finding out.  What this – yet another – university study shows is not that 71% of people consider Facebook to be a privacy concern, but in fact 71% of people are behaving badly and are worried about being found out.

So with this in mind we must try to help these tearaways find a resolution.  After hours of pacing around the UAE Uncut La-blog-atory in a cardigan, smoking a pipe, tending a chemistry set, writing on a blackboard with chalk and everything is black and white I have discovered a solution to this conundrum.  D=FB.  Yep, delete your Facebook account.

If, however, you find that the UAE Uncut science department’s theory is not to your liking then the alternatives are to either adjust your personal privacy settings or to stop behaving like an uncouth teenager altogether.  That’s right, stop going to dodgy nightclubs and hanging out with dodgy people, and put that bag of coffee sweetener down too.  Instead, go to a park.  Oh no wait, I mean go to a municipal grassy area and…well be careful not to get hit by a car.  You could go to the cinema…oh no wait that’s full of loud teenagers who like to shout.  Ok, go to a Mall and…ah right, sorry I forgot.  Ok how about this, go and get your car and go out for a lovely evening drive to relax…ah.  Riiiight.  Yeah.  The Land Cruisers, I forgot about the Land Cruisers… A walk?  No…no of course not, sorry.

You know what; just get found out by your parents and boss, so what?  Carry on partying into the night, but please do keep updating your status to let us know how it’s all going.

I promise we’ll all be on tenterhooks…

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