Stephen Fry is not someone prone to splashing personal details around the web; nevertheless, according to a report in The Guardian, he has fallen into the privacy trap of Plaxo (a LinkedIn-style “business” social networking site).
Fry was unaware that his privacy settings meant that all users (not just those on his contacts list) could access personal information including his work mobile phone number and what The Guardian believes to be his home address. Fry is of the opinion that the site changed his privacy permissions without consulting him, an allegation which is denied by Plaxo. Whether or not this is true, Fry’s latest internet spat highlights the dangers associated with social networking sites and how easy it is to inadvertently grant a myriad of unknown users permission to information you only want to share with a small number of people.
It is easy to forget the essential purpose of these social networking sites – the sharing of personal information. There is a balance to be struck between appearing incredibly dull (and having next to no personal information) and splashing all your contact details, political and religious views and photographs on the internet. The fact that such a sophisticated social networker as Mr Fry may have forgotten, overlooked or misunderstood this rule of modern online society shows the false sense of security with which the world now operates online.