• Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
sunshine & unicorns: a blog about love, learning, and life in the upper midwest

11 August 2009

i like kevin bacon but I hate footloose

Actually I have never seen Footloose. It's probably entertaining. But Kevin Bacon's been in my head for several hours now, and as a result my oh-so-lyrical brain has conjured up the song Summer Girls, by LFO. And apparently LFO hates Footloose. Or something.

But anyway. What's with the sudden onslaught of Kevin references? Well, have you ever heard of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? Read the link if you really want to know the basis, but the main idea is that it's a small world. Bf and I encounter this small world phenomenon often, given that we live in a smallish city that's not too far from our smaller hometown. Hell, we met and started talking on the premise of what a small world it is.

Most people these days have Facebook accounts, am I right? And we're all friends with tons of people, from high school acquaintances to coworkers to college buddies to people we just happened to have met through one circumstance or another. But we're not friends with everyone we know (at least, I'm not) because there are certain people you simply don't want spying on your life. And don't kid yourself: that's what Facebook is. A means to spy on people you only sort of know.

But Facebook has a lot of privacy settings. You can choose who gets to see what about you: just friends, friends of friends, people in your "network," everyone, or just specific people. Each part of your profile allows you to customize its privacy. The biggest loophole, in my opinion, is the "Friends of Friends" loophole. It turns Facebook in to a new generation's Kevin Bacon phenomenon: the 3 Degrees of Facebook. Albums are (by default) set to the "Friends of Friends" privacy setting. If I tag a friend in a photo, and that friend has a friend (who is not my friend), this other person can look at my photos. And not just the photo that contains our mutual friend either. This non-friend of mine can look at all of my photos.
The other night, Bf and I learned that someone (let's call him Joe) we didn't really want to share our lives with was finding out information about us via Facebook. But how? I have my privacy locked down pretty tight. And I don't even have any friends who Joe knows.

Oh wait, I forgot. I live in a smallish town. After a little investigation, we found out that Joe's got an acquaintance (Jane) who went to high school with someone I know through a professional meeting (Bill). Jane is friends with Bill and with Joe (of course). And I am friends with Bill. So the connection is:

Pink Heli -- Bill -- Jane -- Joe

Because of the privacy setting "Friends of Friends" (which I promptly changed to "Friends Only," Jane was able to view my photo albums. Joe couldn't, but Joe could see any comments Jane made to Bill about the photos, me, or anything related. Assuming that Jane and Joe are good friends, Jane can share any information she finds about me (derived from my photos and their captions) with Joe.

Crazy, right? But it happened. Is it a big deal? No. I don't share stuff on Facebook that I would mind becoming public information. I'm Facebook friends with my boss, most of my coworkers, some college professors... all sorts of people. But still, it's a little creepy how available our "password-protected" information really is, isn't it?