What Every Artist Needs to Know About Facebook (And the Information they Share)

By admin in Misc > Art Opinion

Here’s something you may not know about me—I love listening to music at Pandora.com (in fact, I’m listening to my “Celtic” station right now). I also like spending time on Facebook and chatting with friends.

But when Facebook started sharing some of my information with Pandora last week, I got a little antsy. A little bothered, perhaps. And maybe a little unsure if I was ready for this new era of digital openness, where my information is increasingly spread around the web without me knowing about it.

It’s not even that I think communication between Facebook and Pandora is necessarily bad—but it’s one example of how websites, iPhone apps, and social networks aren’t going to guard our information like we may always want them to.

And ultimately, it’s also a wake-up call (to me anyway) that things are changing, both online and off. . . and we need to make sure we’re keeping up.

All work and no play isn’t realistic anymore.

We all go online for many different reasons. Some days it might be to update your website with new artwork, or add to a post to your art blog. Other times, you and I hit the net just to avoid the daily grind and play a few Facebook games while writing on a friend’s wall.

It’s all good stuff, but pretty soon, it’s also going to be ALL connected: your play, AND your work; your public life and your private life.

Heck, these days, people are as likely to ask if you have a Facebook page for your art as they are to ask if you have an online portfolio or art blog.

If you DO direct them to your Facebook page, they’re going to learn a lot more about you than just your artist statement—simply because Facebook collects data about you all the time, and with their new, looser privacy controls, it’s getting much harder to keep from sharing that information unintentionally.

Now, there are generally two mindsets people have about this future of sharing:

1. That’s great! People will really get to know YOU and your art. You won’t have to work so hard to connect with them and show your authentic self.

2. Uh-oh. . . less privacy means you’ll never get away from “work” again. And if you say the wrong thing somewhere, you might even ruin a business opportunity!

I can see both sides to this argument, but personally I lean towards the second one. I don’t know why that is, other than just my personality I suppose.

I do know how much control I have over my own websites, and lately I’ve been wishing I had the same control at Facebook. After all, when you have your own website or art blog, you’re 100% in the driver’s seat with how much you share, and whether or not you want to keep sharing it forever. With Facebook, there aren’t nearly as many guarantees (some say there aren’t ANY guarantees).

Of course I realize that other people will have varying levels of comfort with how much they share online—everybody’s different. :) My only goal today, with this article, is to express my concern that artists need to understand what they’re sharing online, and how to take control of it.

So here’s how to take control of your sharing:

On Facebook it’s as easy as spending a half-hour (yes, it might take that long) going through all of the links in your “Account” tab at the top-right of your page.

In particular, “Account Settings” “Privacy Settings” and “Application Settings” are the important ones you should look at. Go through them with a friend who’s already done it, just so you can see what you want to share and what you don’t.

Not to be paranoid, but I’d suggest checking that “Account” tab every few months, to make sure any NEW settings are configured to your liking. Facebook adds new privacy options occasionally, and by default they’re often set to “share with everyone.”

If you want even more control you might consider setting up one Facebook page for your personal life, and then a separate one for your art.

And please don’t get me wrong. . . Social networks and sharing aren’t bad. Used correctly, I’m a big fan—but they ARE something you have to stay on top of.

At least, that’s my opinion. Thanks for letting me share. :)


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