Byron emailed me yesterday in response to my recent post, in which I criticized his judgment in trash-talking his soon-to-be ex-wife on his Facebook page while I also pointed to the real freedom-of-speech questions his case raises. His email to me was polite and reasonable, and so I am reprinting it here (minus his contact information), followed by my own take on what he says.
MARK BYRON'S EMAIL:
Thanks for taking the time to write about me on your blog. I'd like to encourage you to take a second look at my story, along with the facts of my case. You make some great points- that this is in fact a very interesting case to everyone. Some of your statements about me are a little unfair, though. I encourage you to take a look at the now public posts on my Facebook wall, for starters. www.facebook.com/byronphoto - there, you'll see the confession email from the fellow who 'gave' my soon-to-be ex-wife his login credentials to Facebook which allowed her to see my private posting. I agree with you that the site is not as public as some think that it is - however, I have more than 12 years in IT background. I am an MCSE for example - and understand a great deal about privacy and security on computers as well as on Facebook. I utilize groups on Facebook and used every bit of available security that Facebook has to offer. Please consider writing a follow up once you've had a chance to take a closer look at my story. Feel free to call me or write me with any questions you may have.
Byron, a New York photographer, is clearly staying on top of his story online, and I commend him for that. As I wrote previously, there is no way for we bystanders to know how right Byron may or may not be in having called his wife evil and vindictive, or how right she may or may not be in having filed for a protective order and claimed that the comments on his Facebook page frightened her. That is between the two of them and the court. What is clear, though, is that Byron badly overestimated the privacy that Facebook allegedly affords him and his FB "friends." Whatever his IT background, it appears that he still holds this mistaken belief, as shown in his statement in his email about "the fellow who 'gave' my soon-to-be ex-wife his login credentials to Facebook which allowed her to see my private posting." Truth is, in real terms there is no such thing as a "private posting" on Facebook. Facebook is so hackable that, with or without someone's willingly handing over a person's login info, anything posted there is at the mercy of anyone who has sufficient skills and ill intent. Posting anything on Facebook in the belief that it will be seen "only" by your "friends" is excruciatingly naive at best. It is a mistake that I hope and trust Byron will not repeat. Meanwhile, the issue of what a person has the free-speech right to say and not say on Facebook remains a legal football. With users' erratic learning curve on the limitations of social media privacy, the technical reality that all Facebook speech is de facto public doesn't necessarily mean that FB users who post provocative things intend for them to have meaning beyond their "friends" circle. But right now judges have tons of room to interpret, and make, law on this. Which is why the smart thing for we users to do is to treat such media as if they are entirely public.