Today I deactivated my Facebook account.
The news that a potential privacy breach on the popular social media website that could show old but private messages posted on users' timelines sent sheer panic through my colleagues' eyes. Everyone dropped what they were doing to make sure their lives -- and perhaps secrets -- were protected.
I was one of them. In an instant I was scouring my timeline to see if the rumours were true. I scrolled to 2007 and sure enough, chatter between friends that I would not want others reading was there for me and potentially all my friends to see. It was my worst nightmare coming true.
Or was it?
As I started reading, my blood pressure started to go down. The messages were pretty mundane. Many illustrated weekend plans, birthday wishes and silly musings from years past. I'm sure some of the messages contained frustrations, gossip and other information that should always remain private between a sender and sendee. But for the most part, I was relieved to see I don't have that much to hide.
Others will not be so lucky. People who are looking for new jobs, carrying on affairs or dealing with other intimate, personal issues may have had the doors blown off their privacy rights today. Many of us have trusted Facebook over the years with some of our deepest, darkest secrets. Privacy was one of the things they did everything in their power to protect, right?
All too often, the humble brag status updates and photos of special occasions only tell half of the story about what's going on in people's lives. That's the very conversation I had three weeks ago with one of my closest friends (not on Facebook) and she and I challenged ourselves to purge our "friend" list down to the ones we genuinely care to share our lives with. It felt freeing to delete about 150 people from my Facebook life. Not because I didn't like them or wish them well, but because I really had nothing to do with their lives anymore.
All of a sudden, Facebook became fun again, and I found myself on it more. But today's apparent breach makes me uneasy. Regardless of whether these were private messages that were exposed, or just old wall posts I'd forgotten about, the situation highlighted to me how risky it can be to put your life on the Internet.
While the people who found out about this possible breach and protected themselves right away will breathe a sigh of relief tonight, scores more may suddenly have a lot of answering to do.
So long, Facebook.