Confessions of a paranoid Netizen

I've always resisted the idea of blogging--the thought of opening a window to my soul for the entire cyber world to peer into, somehow, just never quite appealed to me.So it was with some reluctance that I eventually took on a blogger role at ZDNet Asia, but not without recognizing that it is a necessary part of my work as a journalist on a new media platform.

I've always resisted the idea of blogging--the thought of opening a window to my soul for the entire cyber world to peer into, somehow, just never quite appealed to me.

So it was with some reluctance that I eventually took on a blogger role at ZDNet Asia, but not without recognizing that it is a necessary part of my work as a journalist on a new media platform.

And then came the increasingly popular social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, and the professional networking sites like LinkedIn.

They've become such a hit with the online user community that companies are now scurrying to get on the bandwagon and keep up with the changing tide.

Whether or not social networking sites are nothing more than a passing phase, they are undeniably the current flavor of the month and companies serious about staking a claim in the Web 2.0 era need to look at how they can integrate such platforms into their business.

It's inevitable then that the team at ZDNet Asia, cheered on by its fellow global siblings, would be encouraged to get on the bandwagon.

I got myself on Facebook, populated my profile with the necessary data about my work at ZDNet Asia, and my colleagues dutifully invited themselves on my "Friends" list. To my dismay, I also started receiving requests from friends who found me on Facebook asking to be added on as well.

Alright, I admit, I've always struggled with a little problem I like to call privacy paranoia. I keep my personal life separate from my work, so the possibility that my colleagues can preview the friends I have--including their mugshots--and the friends that my friends have, is terribly unnerving to me.

My life has always been an open book and I've not committed any grave sins--so far, at least--that I need to shield from the public eye. But, there are still some things about me that I would like to keep private and circulated only within a small circle of friends.

Also, keeping my private life separate from work allows me to maintain a professional persona and be better able to fulfill my duties as a journalist.

Sites like Facebook, blurs the two lines, and with consumer tech now spilling into the corporate realm, it could become an issue some companies may need to deal with. This, on top of the security concerns that are now starting to emerge, including this week's Facebook outage.

Perhaps a set of corporate guidelines should be drawn up so businesses that deem it necessary for their employees to get on a social networking site, can help their employees maintain a safe online profile.

For now, I'm keeping my friends out--or as much as I can--of my Facebook profile and my personal data to the bare minimum.

And if you're a Singaporean member of a social networking site, ponder over this... When you include your birthdate in your profile, you've just reduced the string of permutations hackers need to break to obtain your identification card or passport number, since the first two digits are prefixed to your year of birth.

The one feature I like about Facebook? It allows you to state your gender...what can I say, I look androgynous at times, thanks to a set of shoulders and jawline that stretch from the West End to the East. I blame my parents.