Facebook, where we constantly share opinions, links, pictures, videos, status updates, contact information and more.Managing your online identity is a constant struggle between defining the public, the private, and the many shades of context in between. One prominent battleground, of course, is 500-million-member strong
Navigating the various shades of privacy, however, can be difficult and I Shared What?!? helps to show you what information your sharing according to your privacy settings.
ISharedWhat.com is an "information sharing simulator that lets you see the information you would share right now with a Facebook App or Facebook Connect, using permissions you set." The site makes a comparison between navigating the social Web with driving a car, calling it "inherently dangerous" while "incredibly powerful," pointing out that sites like Facebook are helping to create a Web "based on people, rather than websites".
The site works by letting you log in using your Facebook login and then showing you, plain and simple, what you're granting access to every time you log in to another website or Facebook App using Facebook. Depending on your settings, this can be anything from your basic details like name and time zone to more intimate details like your friends list, your email address and even your phone number.
To get a look at what you're sharing, give the I Shared What?!? Simulator a shot. If you're concerned with sharing your information with the site, this is what it has to say about how it handles your information:
Moving Beyond What You Share
As I mentioned earlier, the site makes a pretty decent analogy between driving a car and navigating the social Web, saying that "Some people will believe that these crazy new contraptions are deathtraps and avoid the whole system. Others will dive in before road signs and traffic rules are figured out. [...] But in the end, it will be worth it."
Renowned privacy researcher danah boyd shared shared some interesting anecdotes just this morning of users employing innovative methods for controlling their digital identities on Facebook. While your controlling your permission settings is important, boyd profiles two teens who also found that Facebook is, in the end, "worth it" but employ practices beyond settings to insure their privacy.
The first teen, Mikalah, performs a "super logoff" by deactivating her account every time she logs off, they way she has complete control over her online identity. For Mikalah, there is no Facebook Connect, Instant Personalization or concerns over third-party sites. When she isn't actively on Facebook, she doesn't exist.
The second teen, Shamika, simply takes a more proactive approach to Facebook by keeping her profile completely current and erasing each status update, comment, picture or message as it moves from the present to the past. "If it's relevant now," writes boyd, "it belongs on Facebook, but the old stuff is no longer relevant so it doesn't belong on Facebook."
While many of us forge on ahead or opt out entirely, it seems that there are even finer grades of social media use occurring that defy entirely the privacy settings Facebook has set for our use. In the meantime, it's likely you (like most) fall somewhere in the middle, and a tool like I Shared What?!? can help you see where you stand.
In the end, the creators of I Shared What?!? envision "an entirely new kind of digital infrastructure where individuals are free to use their own data seamlessly at any service, as easily, and as safely, as we can drive to the grocery store today." Already, from boyd's tales of youthful privacy navigation, we can see that this will go beyond just data portability to realms of whether our digital self exists when we log off, and if so for how long.