Many businesses involved in lead generation and online visibility have concerns about privacy and security. Especially now that such a heavy emphasis is being placed on online reputation building.
Many of the social media platforms which are so essential to achieving online visibility require a personal profile as an anchor for a business profile.
For instance, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ all require a personal account before you can create a business page or profile can be created. Although that personal profile information may not be immediately visible to visitors on your business pages, this does not necessarily protect your personal information.
Facebook has been one of the key offenders in this area and the latest instance is the ‘search by phone number’ fiasco.
It has always an irritation that both Google and Facebook are persistent in their efforts to force you to give them your mobile phone number for ‘security’ reasons ie if you get locked out of your account, you can request a text giving you a PIN to regain access.
In the instance of Facebook, they allow random people to search for and connect your personal details to your phone number. This security breach was public for for a month or more before Facebook decided to take action.
According to this article http://themarketsareopen.blogspot.ca/2012/10/fb-facebook-inc-nasdaqfb-fixes-search.html security researcher Suriya Prakash, hackers can easily gain unauthorized access to millions of people’s personal contact details.
Apparently Facebook is now fixing this issue.
Google also virtually insists on you providing them with a mobile phone number. Many who set up google accounts for clients believe that this is to make it easier for Google to track ‘false’ profiles and connect multiple profiles run by single entities.
At any rate, the fact is that if you wish to set up a Facebook business page, a LinkedIn Company Page or a Google+ Local account, you are going to need to tie this to a personal profile and provide details you probably wouldn’t want broadcast on the internet.
When it comes to corporations and other businesses where the online profiles are administered by either a staff member or by a contractor, this always raises the question of to whose profile the business page should be connected.
Most employees do not want their employers business profiles to be tied to their own personal profile – and employers are also reluctant. What do you do if the employee leaves? Trying to get the business profile reassigned can be extremely problematic for everyone involved.
A recent LinkedIn article http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20121010201716-2259773-do-young-people-care-about-privacy posed the question as to whether different demographics have different view points on this issue of privacy.
The author concluded that younger people understand that privacy is not about ‘secrets’ but about controlling the flow of information.
Unfortunately the basic tenets of online visibility are in direct conflict with personal privacy.
In order to protect your personal information, the bottom line is to put as little about yourself online as possible – even when promised by the platform that your information will be kept private. Experience shows that this just isn’t so. This creates an issue as you cannot open many accounts without divulging a huge amount of information about yourself – for example, your birth date, gender, address etc.
So if you’re a company wanting to create online visibility but protect personal privacy you are faced with a dilemma. There are solutions, but they are not simple and require careful planning and a strictly adhered to set of parameters. They also do not always comply with the platforms terms of service.
If you need advice about this – especially if you’re concerned about building your business’ online reputation then you should speak with someone who is well versed in these procedures and who makes it a priority to stay up to date with the latest changes on the platforms in which you participate.