There is usually a lot of excitement about going on vacation, or even on a business trip, and if the trip goes well, there are new experiences to be discussed. And up to the advent of cell phones you usually had to wait till you got home to tell friends and family about the experience. And to show them your photographs.
Of course, now you can share each moment of a trip in real time with friends and family, and sometimes, thieves and scammers.
The problem is that we are creatures of habit.
We have become to depend on our smartphones for just about everything - from communicating to banking. And we have become accustomed to the gratification of an nearly instant response when we post something. It is just like having your friends there.
Now, however, that can include people you don't really know.
"Keep it secret" is the best advice, and here are some ways to do so:
1. If you are traveling don't announce it on social media, or a blog, and if you need travel advice, ask it privately. And if you can't contain yourself in your excitement please don't put dates and travel details.
2. It is actually advised to have a separate phone specifically for travel, which only has minimal personal data on it. If you cannot do this make sure that your security settings on your banking, and social sites are updated.
3. Try to avoid using public Wi-fi. If you need to a public hotspot look for secured public Wi-Fi that requires a password. This Tales Off Road article offers a excellent overview of pocket Wi-Fi devices, which would help you avoid using public Wi-Fi.
4. Turn off anything to do with location-identification so that it doesn't appear in your posts, and set your Facebook for Timeline Review in case you are tagged in a travel photo.
5. Do not share flight information. This type of information can be used for anything from virtual kidnappings to social engineering that targets businesses.
6. If it is a family trip make sure to talk to your children about online safety, and make sure the security settings on their phones are updated.
7. Don't post or "check-in" while on the vacation.
8. Save the Sharing till you get home! No matter how excited you are save all of those photos and comments till you arrive home. If that seems overwhelming use a social media scheduler for Twitter. Facebook no longer allows third-party apps to post to personal pages.
And I am guessing a few are saying, "But I have my privacy and security settings locked down. Only friends can see it."
That goes back to the question of "how well do you know all of your social media friends?" While hopefully this is a very rare case you can read here of a family whose home was burglarized by some of their daughter's Facebook friends.
When traveling pretend like it's the "old days," and save your photographs and fond memories till you come home.
Security Intelligence's "Five Tips to Stay Safe on Social Media While Traveling"
Nationwide's "7 Social Media Vacation Safety Tips"
Traveling with Stories' "Social Media Travel Safety Tips."
Sharing is a wonderful thing, and is what fuels social media marketing. But an incident that happened last night reminded me of a basic, and very reasonable, worry. The nutshell of what happened is that a local business shared a photo of their unique architecture. It was quite striking.
One of the things I like to do for local businesses is to share items from their newsfeed in order to offer support. And that was exactly what I did.
About a half hour later I had a message come through from the photographer. She was delighted I liked the photo, but wanted to make it clear that it was copyrighted.
We had a very nice exchange, and she relaxed once she knew why I was sharing it.
A couple of realizations came from this.
One is that neither businesses, nor individuals, have quite come to terms with the fact that business has come to Facebook. It is almost as natural as breathing to share photos with a friend, and then those friends share it again. But in everyone's mind, that is just amongst friends.
With businesses the game changes. Sharing is still the name of the game - activity being a necessity on a business page, but it is no longer just amongst friends.
The only suggestion I have for this is based on material being shared to a business owner/staff's personal page. If that happens I would recommend asking permission before it is shared.
However, items are usually added to business page (unless the privacy settings are set to keep items from being added to the Timeline). Once that happens there is little to be done. And with the reduced size of the image there is little chance of a high quality download. So, if the photograph is copyrighted there is little chance of someone actually being able to "steal" a good copy.
The other realization was that I personally needed to look into safeguards. This is particularly true as I put the final touches on the virtual gallery, Creative Pulse. There is going to be Facebook publicity for the site, and I wanted to make sure I had protected the artists' material to the best of my ability.
The first things I learned is that most of the Facebook/photo tips no longer seem valid. After I had read several articles I went back to Facebook to test their accuracy.
The common belief is that you can go to "Photos" and change the "public" settings on photos. You can't.
The other belief is that only "Friends" can download your photos. I tested this with a couple of business sites that I had not "liked," and a couple of random people who were not "friends."
The "download" showed up on all of their photos and albums.
So far the simplest means of protecting your photographs and images is to reduce their size before loading them to Facebook.
Though, for professional photographs, there are means of adding your name or watermark.
As for Creative Pulse I have turned off the "copy" ability on the website, and will make sure that publicity images are reduced.
This time around I am going to focus on public opinion and communication. Letter writing has always played a huge role in the spread of public opinion, with an example of this being during the heydays of immigration. In A True Picture of Emmigration, by Rebecca Burlend, the author told how her husband listened for news of letters coming from America. Then he would go and hear what was said of conditions in the U.S.. Nor can the power of the coffee and chocolates houses be forgotten - as those gathering places were where politics and popular opinion were vehemently discussed.
Jumping ahead to today, and particularly to the oft-bemoaned fact that everyone has their nose in their smart phones and tablets. And while I will admit that I too bemoan this on occasion it also cannot be ignored. Or, it might be better to say, "It is risky to ignore."
The forums for public opinion have changed, and become lightening fast....
......Pictures of a restraurant dinner on Facebook are usually sent with a comment.....
......Bored people, waiting in line, having nothing better than to Tweet their status......
Basically opinions of businesses and services fly with the speed of thought.
And businesses can only ignore this at their risk.
If you don't "hear" what is being said then you cannot highlight the praise, or show solid customer service, if there was a problem. Nor can a business afford to focus on just one "window" into the thoughts of their customers, because their clients may use a Tweet one day, or a FB post the next. Or they may be on a tablet, and writing a longer review on Google Plus.
Last Friday I stood wiping away tears as I washed off my old rocking horse for the auctioneer. Up until that moment it had sat in the basement, unacknowledged, and covered in forty years of dust, but with the contact, and the care, memories whispered back. This was the present my Uncle Dewey gave me. He had walked me across the street to the Thirfty's, and let me pick out any toy I wanted. Even if it was a black plastic rocking horse nearly too big for me. But Uncle Dewey lived large, even for a family that lived large, and in a heartbeat he had purchased it, and carried it back across the street for me.
On my daring steed I dreamed many adventures, as an only child will, and that Friday morning, as I gently washed its molded black mane, I sorrowed for forgetting my brave companion. Harder the still was the idea that I was planning on including it in a auctioneer's lot. But what does a fifty-five year old woman need with a rocking horse?
When the auctioneer began to haul stuff from the basement, and reached for the rocking horse all I could say was, "Stop."
Such memories are not given away lightly. Particularly not to someone who shrugs off other people's loves and memories with a jaded shoulder.
Originally I thought this tale more fitting for my White Fox Stories page, but I realized that it had more to do with social media.
I have heard friends say, "Our history will be lost! Everything will be digital and in two hundred years will be gone!"
But then I think of the theory that all of our radio signals and T. V. shows are eternally broadcasting across the universe, and I have to wonder - What of all the media consigned to the internet? Shared, liked, and commented on - working further and further away from its source. Does this give some immortality to our memories?
Granted I have no answers, and am admittedly waxing a bit maudlin, but any who reached middle age (and many before) are faced with the remnants of family lives. And the question soon becomes, "How many memories can I save?" "How many talismans of my life can I store?"
As I worked through my house I also found my bronze baby shoes.
"Ah, who would want the footwear of another''s baby?"
And yes, I am endeavoring to save the above memories - to send them off into a digital land of the young. Because all of this reminded me of all of those photos that are saved onto the internet - lifetimes of vacation, celebrations, births, and memorials. Personal stories of both human and pet, and the wild too.
Oh the technology and the media will change, and who knows if all of these memories will be able to be accessed in two hundred years. But I find some reassurance in the possibility that like our old radio signals the digital transmissions of our memories will live on.
"A picture is worth a thousand words," is a truism that we have heard time and again, and for many of us photos not only catch a moment in time but a wealth of emotions. All evoked when we look upon a photograph. We love those memories - of a moment's beauty, or a moment's fun, caught. And even more precious are the photos that catch friends and loved ones. Once all we could do was safely file in them in a album, or if not that organized - a shoebox. Then the internet came along, and soon you had digital sites were you could save those pictures.
Then came social media, and the opportunity to share those pictures in nearly an instant.
Which brings me to my discussion topic of the week - about the "over-sharing" of photographs. This was born of a recent trend I noted where my newsfeed was suddenly being swamped with other people's family photos.
I fully understand the desire to share.
We want to share the excitement of sharing trip photos, or the wonderful discovery of family photos - oft of people long gone. And there is nothing wrong with that, but in the excitement people forget that posting each photo individually floods friends' newsfeeds. Then it does become a babel of photos.
A much better way to handle a large quantity of pictures is to go to Facebook Photos, and click on "Albums." There you can create an album for a set; preferably labeling the album.
So when you post the album only one photo shows up in the newsfeed, and friends can click on it to see the whole set.
Cathy Mosley brings her 26 years of storytelling and writing experience to the realm of Social Media. To help small businesses.