Saturday, August 8, 2009

Topics to Avoid Online

"Thirty-five percent of adults on the Internet now have a profile on at least one social networking site, and 51 percent have more than one. Three-quarters of users between the ages of 18 and 24 have an online profile," writes Charles W. Bryant on HowStuffWorks.

I don't have to tell you have fast social networking sites are growing, or the weight of influence they can carry. The beauty of sites like Facebook and Twitter is that they allow people a glimpse into others' personalities and personal lives. At the same time, they pose the question: how much information is just too much?

Bryant offers ten topics that one should refrain from sharing online:

  1. Personal conversations: "personal and private matters should never be shared on your wall," he writes; "You wouldn't go around with a bullhorn announcing a private issue to the world, and the same thing goes on the Internet."
  2. Social plans: sharing this information, unless intending for it to serve as an open invitation, can make "friends" feel left out and can also pose security concerns.
  3. Linking sites: "If you link various profiles together, be aware that what you post in one world is available to the others."
  4. Company information: this can inadvertently give competitors an advantage.
  5. Photos of your kids: these can fall into the hands of predators.
  6. Your address and phone number: security, security, security.
  7. Personal finance information: "You would think that nobody would share things like where they do their banking or what their stock portfolio looks like, but it happens." Even innocent comments can give predators information that can make it easier to hack into your accounts. Bryant suggests avoiding talk of financial matters altogether.
  8. Your password: this is pretty much a no-brainer.
  9. Password hints: including information on your Facebook profile that may also be an answer to an online security question can be very dangerous. "It could provide an identity thief the last piece of the puzzle needed to hack into your bank account," Bryant explains.
  10. Anything you don't want shared: once it's been posted, it's recorded into cyberspace forever.

While many of these tips seem to be no-brainers, plenty of people break these rules everyday. It is important to always consider your multiple audiences and your goals when posting anything online.

What would you add to Bryant's list? Would you take anything off?

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Honestly, I disagree with MOST of the tips on that list. I found it totally ridiculous!

First of all, Facebook belonged to college students was a SOCIAL site, meant to share inside jokes with friends and to make plans. I don't really understand what his whole "being left out" business is.

Now that parents are on it? Photos of kids or family photos are absolutely acceptable. You shouldn't be friends with people you don't know anyway, so why not share photos with friends?

Yikes, I really disagreed with a lot of this stuff. I mean, some of it makes sense, but come on, it's called a SOCIAL network for a reason. What does this guy think we should be doing on Facebook then?