Data #5: Sharing Information in Social Networks

If you have a Facebook, Myspace, Twitter or any social networking account I advise you to be more careful about posting your next status or your personal information. It is not that social networks are bad, but there are times when you have to be careful about what information you put up in the Internet. You should also be careful in who you interact with when you are browsing the Internet.

Advantages
There are advantages in having a social networking account and sharing information. Having a social networking account

  • will enable you to connect with friends, families, classmates, professional peers and almost every other person who has the said social network account
  • will help you find the latest news on topics that you are interested in

With Facebook, I was able to connect with several friends whom I have not been able to talk to for many years. Facebook is also way for me to keep in touch with those who have recently moved away. Twitter is my personal RSS feed. I can read the latest news of my favorite game series or find a helpful tutorial through a tweeter that I follow.

Disadvantages
Even if people in the Internet may not be able to see what you are doing physically, you should have some second thoughts in posting a status update that may put you in a certain risk. For example, if you post something derogatory about your boss… you may as well get fired if your boss happens to read your post.[1]

But that is not all. Here are other possible consequences you may want to consider:

  • Posting your vacation dates may give thieves the golden opportunity to invade your home (assuming if you posted your address online).
  • Posting a photo of yourself drinking and partying may make college recruiters less inclined to accept you.[2]
  • Putting your personal information in the Internet may lead to you getting prank calls, spam e-mails, stalkers coming to your place, or even your identities stolen.

Information that is put up in the Web can spread fast like a wildfire. Once you post the status or the photo, it may be very difficult to take it off of the Web completely. People can save the original documentation through screenshots, photo links, e-mails and various other ways.

However, do not let the disadvantages discourage you from making or having a social networking account.

Finding the Balance
Like I said before, while nobody can see what you are doing from the other end they can see traces of your activities in the Internet. I think what people need to remember is that the Internet is generally not a very private place.

Here are some tips on how you can be more careful in posting information up on the Internet:

  • Ask yourself the questions “Would my parents, my grandparents or even my boss like to see this status update or photo? How would they react?” If you think they may not be happy seeing the post, it is best to not display it on the Internet.
  • Never post any of your most important information like passwords, full name and birthday, home address, credit card numbers, phone numbers, etc.
  • Be sure you read and understand the privacy policy when you are using a software or an online service (examples: shopping or paying bills online). Some companies or third parties may use your information without your permission.
  • If you can, set your privacy settings to where only certain people can look at your profile. For Facebook users, here is a link that discusses the 10 privacy settings you should know.[3]

The Issue on Privacy
Although the Internet is a gigantic digital library of information, I feel that there is a very thin boundary that is being crossed. The Internet is an open and public place that people of many nations and cultures have access to. But where is the privacy? Also, is it moral that schools and companies can look up their candidates through a social networking site and judge those candidates based on the contents of their status updates or photos?

Sources

  1. H.S. Teacher Loses Job Over Facebook Posting – Boston News Story – WCVB Boston. (2010, August 18). Boston News, Massachusetts News, Weather & Sports, Channel 5 TV – WCVB TheBostonChannel.com. Retrieved March 6, 2011, from http://www.thebostonchannel.com/r/24670937/detail.html
  2. Johnson, J. (2011, February 3). Campus Overload – The fine art of polishing your online persona. Blog Directory (washingtonpost.com). Retrieved March 6, 2011, from http://voices.washingtonpost.com/campus-overload/2011/02/cleaning_up_your_online_person.html
  3. O’Neill, N. (2002, February 9). 10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know. All Facebook – The Unofficial Facebook Blog – Facebook News, Facebook Marketing, Facebook Business, and More!. Retrieved March 6, 2011, from http://www.allfacebook.com/facebook-privacy-2009-02
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1 Comment »

  1. Deborah said

    Susan,
    This post (entire blog) provides detailed information that’s very helpful. I especially appreciate the “10 privacy settings” information. Thanks.
    Deborah

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