For all the uproar you hear in the tech press about online privacy, it’s remarkable how many people violate their own privacies on a regular basis. And now a new website called “We Know What You’re Doing” seeks to expose just how foolish many people are about what they post publicly on the Web.
A brief look at We Know What You’re Doing (aka WKWYD), which was launched by 18-year-old British Web designer Callum Haywood, shows just how many absurd, ridiculous, and downright idiotic things people say — publicly — on Facebook.
The site uses Facebook’s Graph API, as well as publicly available Foursquare check-ins, to automatically generate streams of brainlessness, vitriol, and over-sharing from publicly available Facebook posts. These posts are categorized into four columns: Who wants to get fired? (people ranting about their job, bosses); Who’s hungover?; Who’s taking drugs?; and Who’s got a new phone number? Each post includes the user’s profile picture, and lists their first name and last initial. In other words, there’s nothing anonymous about this — that’s the point.
As Haywood explains on his site, Facebook users need to be aware of what their privacy settings are, and to make sure not to “publish status updates containing potentially risky material as ‘Public.’”
“…The problem is not with Facebook themselves, when used correctly, their privacy controls are very good,” writes Haywood on WKWYD’s “About” page. “The problem is… people simply don’t understand the risks of sharing everything.”
We would argue that, not only do some people not understand the risk of over-sharing and brutal honesty on social media, but they don’t realize that they are making these comments public in the first place. After all, if you have to log into a website in order to enter, it seems logical that everything that happens within that site remains behind lock and key. Obviously, as WKWYD shows in stark black and white, this misconception still exists, despite the fact that these same concerns have been around for years.
On Twitter, Haywood said that the response to WKWYD has been “overwhelmingly positive so far,” and indicated that more than 100,000 unique visitors have gone to the site in the 27 hours since its launch.
In terms of making sure you don’t end up on WKWYD, Haywood explains on the site that users to need check out their Facebook privacy settings, “and make sure Control Your Default Privacy is not set to ‘Public.’” Haywood further recommends that users choose the “Custom” privacy settings, “and go through each option to choose who can see what.”
Sage advice for an 18-year-old. If only the rest of us could be so wise.
As a side note, Haywood says the inspiration for WKWYD came from a talk by Tom Scott (the guy who created the Google Glass parody video, and Klout parody site Klouchebag.com) entitled “I know what you did five minutes ago,” which we’ve embedded below.