This is a guest blog entry from Karin Gerber who runs HelpTech Solutions with Julio Morell.
There is something cathartic about the whole social networking scene with websites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace allowing us to post things about ourselves that maybe we should leave for a psychologist. I admit, it feels great to post status updates or personal photos online to reach out and share with family and friends in an instant, while receiving positive feedback from them… maybe even lots of positive feedback… but when is a good thing too much?
Just like eating sweets, moderation is the key. And when it comes to how much personal information we blab online about ourselves, even moderation can still be far too much. Sharing too much basic information about yourself and your life can put you at risk.
"There are a handful of personal details that you should never say if you don’t want criminals — cyber or otherwise — to rob you blind", according to Beth Givens, executive director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. (via Yahoo Finance)
Here is a list of some information to make social networking a little safer
Leave Off Your Birth Date and Hometown – With identity theft on the rise, the less that you put out there, the better. Treat it like the real world. If you wouldn’t tell it to a stranger, then why tell it to everyone?
Don’t Advertise Your Vacation or Business Plans – We have seen in the news stories where crooked people out there watch your comings and goings, and when you broadcast that you’re leaving home, they take advantage of the opportunity to burglarize you.
Leave Off Your Home Address, Current City, or Neighborhood – Again, if they can find you, they can rob you. This information helps identify you online… tie this in with vacation plans, and you’re telling people where to find you.
Don’t Post Your Child’s Name Online – This is pretty self-explanatory.
Don’t Allow Children to Use Facebook, Twitter, MySpace Without Supervision – This has always been big on the internet. The biggest sign out there that these websites are a threat to children was a television program called "To Catch a Predator". Keep your kids safe, because as a parent, you have the right to monitor what they do and who they do it with.
Keep Confessions to a Minimum – First off, love your job or hate it, you shouldn’t say anything about it online that you wouldn’t say in the office. With confidentiality clauses, more employers are now looking at websites like Facebook and Twitter and holding employees responsible for what they say and how they behave online. Secondly, anyone who watches TV knows that people who perform pranks (or commit crimes) and post it online are asking for trouble and legal issues. These posts tend to end up on shows like “The Smoking Gun Presents: World’s Dumbest”, and “It Only Hurts When I Laugh”, for example.
No Password Clues – There are stories and articles all over the web about password security. Don’t leave easy hints to figure out your password.
Here are a couple of ways of keeping your online information a little more private
Useful Privacy Controls – Facebook, Twitter, and many other social networking websites give you control who you allow access to your information, pictures, and the daily events in your life. Bottom line is, the less you put out to the universe, the less can come back to harm you.
Don’t Let Search Engines Find You – To help prevent strangers from accessing your page, go to the Search section of Facebook’s privacy controls and select Only Friends for Facebook search results. Be sure the box for public search results isn’t checked.
Taking the time out to secure your online profile will protect you and your friends and family.