As if there wasn’t enough to be concerned about in regards to internet safety, there’s a new, pressing worry when it comes to your online privacy and what it means for your day to day life.
Fallout from Facebook’s f8 conference announcements has “Facebook privacy” trending as one of the hottest topics in our country today. Chances are, if you’re like most Americans, the discussion goes beyond even the reaches of Facebook. You have a Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn and/or MySpace account and you’re reasonably active online.
Additionally, you might have other online subscriptions, post to an online message board, or sign up for freebies and deals online. Facebook’s recent snafu’s serve as a reminder once again of this fact:
Nothing you post online (even under a screen name) is safe from prying eyes. Most of it is likely to be shared with third parties.
It’s a scenario with which some job seekers are all too familiar. You apply for a job, make it to the all important interview process, get along perfectly with the interviewer and then wait for a call which never comes.
It could be because you didn’t do as well as you thought, but it could also be a result of the interviewer using a search engine to find out which internet sites you belong to, what your Facebook profile says, and what sorts of posts you make on your favorite message boards.
So what does one do when nothing private is actually private, and when your private activity online can have serious consequences to nearly every facet of your life?
First, assume that everything you say will be read by…well, everyone. A good rule of thumb too keep in mind is that if you wouldn’t say something in a crowded public place where everyone could potentially hear you, don’t say it online either.
Use privacy settings on sites like Facebook. While the systems might seem complicated, it’s worth learning how to control who sees what when it comes to protecting your online reputation. Privacy setting changes on sites regularly, so keep up with those newsletters and messages from social media sites and change your account as needed.
Managing Your Online Reputation
It’s called reputation management, and these days it’s almost 100% online. Your online presence and what “ranks for your name” creates a perception about you, like it or not.
To be proactive, consider purchasing the domain which corresponds to your full name, merely to keep it out of the hands of someone else. For instance, if your name is John Smith, look into purchasing www.johnsmith.com. Plug your name, phone number, and email address into three or four search engines on a regular basis to ensure that the information you find is information you’re comfortable having in a public forum.
Remember, once you post something online, it’s out of your hands, and it can remain for years. A little forethought goes a long way.