This story is about “Ruffles”. Ruffles isn’t for sale, but as cute puppies go, he’s right at the top of the heap. I found Ruffles’ picture on Facebook, on the profile of a woman I had never met when I posted Ruffles’ picture on Facebook—but I know her husband.

Ruffles’ daddy is often walking his cute puppy when I’m out with my dog, and he once mentioned what his wife does for a living. It took me under a minute to find her profile on Facebook, and … there was Ruffles, displaying all his cute puppiness.

Do note that I haven’t given away anything about Ruffles except that he’s a very cute puppy, and if you do a few seconds of poking I’ve also pointed you at Ruffles’ mommy’s (NOTE: JANUARY 20 2013—now defunct) Facebook profile. No addresses, no information. But aren’t you a little bit disturbed at how easy it was for me to uncover all of this knowing only that someone I met on the street was married to a person whose job title I knew?

As I said in my post of the picture, this is both the coolest and scariest thing about Facebook, the Internet, and social networking. We can get information quickly, and depending on how we use that information good things can happen (CUTE PUPPY!!!!) or other things that aren’t so good can occur. And then there’s the middle ground: as my girlfriend pointed out, even though I was only being playful and having fun, finding this cute puppy picture this way might come off as a little bit stalker-like.

What does this say about privacy?

First, let’s be clear: there’s no such thing as privacy. Privacy is a fairly new idea, really, and one that may have run its course. As I pointed out when Facebook’s Timeline Version came along, the more fun it is to share, the more we erode privacy, both for ourselves and those around us. I’ll repeat: don’t put anything you’re embarrassed of on Facebook, and keep in mind what can happen if you post the wrong things on the Internet.

But please also keep in mind that in striking the right balance between privacy, fun, marketing cute kittens, or whatever else you’re thinking of when your online—on a social network or elsewhere—that everything you do is “out there”. And it’s not coming back.

It’s a lot to manage. And we’re here to help.

Now, take another look at Merengue Dancing Dog.

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