Despite faults, Facebook helps recall my kids' childhood
FARGO — Facebook has been in the news a lot lately, and not for good reasons. The recent revelations about the Cambridge Analytica data sharing has users who haven't already ditched the social media platform questioning whether they want to continue using the social network.
Since grad school, I've elevated my privacy settings to as high as possible, and I won't accept a friend request unless I have met that person face-to-face at one point. I recently assessed the apps connected to my account and deleted several I had no recollection of even using. I've gone on social media fasts before, and I've removed photos and deleted friends I'm no longer associated with.
Yet, I am reluctant to delete my account or the app from my phone.
Because — whether you agree with me doing this or not — photos and videos of my children are stored there. In some cases, Facebook is the only place they exist due to phones that have broken down or content purges when space was limited.
One of my favorite videos of my son was taken when he was mere months old and was giggling riotously at my sister's silly antics. It was deleted long ago from my phone, and though it probably exists on my computer somewhere, the fastest way for me to view that video is through saved videos in my Facebook account.
Not to mention the cherished memories Facebook conveniently surfaces for me nearly every day. It's an interactive way for me to remember big moments during my son's first year of life, like when he could sit up on his own or when we dressed him in a T-shirt that had a tie on it just like his dad wore that day.
I certainly don't rely on Facebook for all photos of my children — I have many on my phone and others are saved on my computer at home. What Facebook offers is convenience and the ability to share them with others who might want to remember those bygone babyhood days.
This doesn't mean I am unaware of possible ramifications of sharing photos of my children on Facebook; I am acutely aware.
Nearly a year after my son was born, I attended a fraud awareness event with former con artist and current security consultant Frank Abagnale, Jr. (made famous in the film "Catch Me If You Can" with Leonardo DiCaprio). He shared beneficial information, but the most poignant takeaway for me was when he said fraudsters will pull photos from a Facebook account to steal someone's identity or impersonate someone else. He said the smartest thing to do when it comes to social media is to never post or share a photo where the subject is looking straight at the camera, because those photos can easily be manipulated into fake passport or driver's license photos.
Yikes! That night I went home and immediately deleted any photos of people — myself and son included — in that position. I'll admit, I haven't kept up that practice, but it's in the back of my mind ... always.
The revelations about my information from Facebook being used by a third party make my stomach turn, yet I still hesitate to delete my account. What if I lose a precious photo or video I don't have saved somewhere else?
I guess it's like everything associated with parenting — you just make a decision and hope it all turns out in the end.