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Facing Up to Facebook

The popular social networking site is the new front porch for many older Americans

Is Privacy Passé?

Privacy on the Internet is an issue for everyone, but more so for boomers. Not necessarily because they are afraid of what's online, but because we're just not used to a world where anyone can find out so much about us.

Boomers tend to be more conservative about putting their data online. But Facebook's Schmitt points out that members have a wide range of options when deciding what information to make public. They can choose to share with only friends or family, with friends of friends or with the whole world.

But Hancock notes that one issue with Facebook is that you, as a member, have no control over what other people post about you. That could be a negative comment, or an embarrassing picture.

Facebook's Schmitt counters, saying people have always been able to talk behind your back, but at least with Facebook you can find out about it, and in some cases counter it.

Hancock says boomers/seniors are also more concerned with the broader implications of digital communications. Is all of this technology dumbing down our kids and grandkids? And is there any way to maintain privacy? Hancock says that while these issues are troubling we need to dial down our fear and use the social networks for the things we enjoy.

He notes that the Greek philosopher Socrates railed against a major technological advancement of his time. It was called the alphabet. The alphabet seems to have survived the test of time. We'll see about Facebook.

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