Thanks for joining us for Part 2 of our 5-part Locking Your Digital Doors series! To check out Part 1 click here.

Last week we learned about Your Digital Doors. Today we’re going to dive into what we share and the components of what we share.

We lock our physical doors in an attempt to keep out strangers and to protect the things that matter most, but what’s behind our digital doors?

We are constantly sharing information online. From where we work to where we eat and where our kids go to school. We do this across many social channels and websites–with family, friends, and our extended network. We are closer to our family, know more about our friends, and have a peek into the lives of people we hardly know. In turn, a large network of people know more and more about our personal and private lives–and our identity.

What many don’t know is we are writing a very detailed story about ourselves and our family. A story, when read, that reveals a lot of personal and private information. From a privacy perspective we think of this in terms of Personally Identifiable Information (or PII). PII is defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as any information about an individual that can be used to uniquely distinguish or trace an individual’s identity.

So, PII is any data that can be used to uniquely distinguish (identify), trace (data used to infer information about someone ) or link (logically associate) someone. At Hueya, we think about data in terms of PII, Descriptive Information, and Inferential Data–what we can infer about someone from combining and connecting this data.

In my (Lewis) work, I often talk about oversharing. Oversharing is the act of sharing personally identifying information with the wrong audience. Sharing your child’s birthday on your Facebook timeline without paying attention to your audience (what might this audience do with this information?) is an example of oversharing.

With this background, let’s checkout Facebook. When you browse to your ‘About’ section, under the overview, you notice that we share our work, relationships, education, and location (among other data). We then proceed to elaborate on each topic in a lot of detail–more work, more education, more relationships, contact information, life events, details, birthdays and interests. On our timeline, we document where we go, what we like, who is important to us, what we buy and our world-views. Excited to share, we post ‘Happy Birthday to my daughter who is 12 today!’ on our timeline.

Now, let’s consider LinkedIn. In LinkedIn we have a comprehensive list of work history, relationship data, interest groups, recommendations, common interests, and more. Checkout Strava. Friends, relationships, where you live, what bike you ride, where you ride, when you ride–including healthcare related info.

Via our digital doors we are sharing more information, more openly, than ever before.

If you look at the list of digital doors you created last week, in the first column you have your doors and in the header row let’s list out all of the PII elements. Start with First Name, Middle, Last, location, etc. (email for a quick list). As part of this document, you can begin to review each of you ‘digital doors’ and conduct a quick audit of which elements are exposed in each service. By doing so you’ll begin to see what information you’re sharing which is potentially harmful and gain awareness around safe sharing.

Remember: this isn’t about not sharing…it’s about sharing safely and protecting what means most to you!

Keep an eye out next week for Part 3 of our Locking Your Digital Doors series: “Who Can See You”.

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