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Privacy and its consquences

With today’s vast number of social media outlets, blogs, forums and thousands of other platforms that one can voice their opinion, we must be careful what we write and determine who our audience could potentially be (anyone/ everyone).  Time and time again, we hear on the news an apology for a mis-interpreted tweet or Facebook posting.  While the freedom of speech Amendment is still in full effect, their are consequences in the form of being exiled (of sorts) through social media.

We are all guilty in one way or another of posting too much information online and most of us have  at some point posted a status update or tweet that we have later regretted. Therefore, it is very important to understand that the decisions and repercussions that can haunt you with your digital footprint.

Employees, colleges & universities are increasingly doing background checks on applicants for a position. The most practicial way for them to do this is to search for you online, be it by searching for you on Facebook, Twitter or on Google.  They are not only looking for comments that could disqualify you, but also any other relevant information that might hinder you such as arrest history.

Be careful of what you are posting and see if it makes sense from an outside perspective

Everytime you register for a new website, fill out questionnaires on online dating profiles, post photos online or update your status you are enlarging your digital footprint. Unless you change your privacy settings, which is very difficult to do given most websites constant changes in their terms and conditions, your social network page (and accompanying personal information) can easily appear within a search engine rankings.  This is why it’s important to regularly search online for yourself to determine what information is out there.

There have been thousands of cases where criminals have collected information about other people and posed as them to steal their identity! For example, your date of birth, address and mothers maiden name are common security questions for banks, so be careful about revealing too much personal information online.

If you are thinking of applying for jobs or college/university courses remember to clean up your social media profiles and make sure there is no negative information about you listed online. If a potential employer Google’s your name, what sort of information will they find?  Make sure you know before your employer does.  If you find some disparaging information, see about going through the proper channels to get it removed.

Your current employers could be watching right now!

There have been a series of cases where people have got in trouble and even fired for what they have posted online, and employers are always on the look out to see what you are up to on the internet.  If your position is more in the public’s eye, there will be more scrutiny about what you post.

A few basic tips for using and posting on social media profiles:

  • Keep your personal and professional profiles separate
  • Try to use a nickname instead of your real name
  • Select an appropriate profile image
  • Public images should be rated “G” / clean
  • Join groups or networks selectively
  • Monitor and block comments
  • Un-tag yourself in inappropriate images
  • Be selective about what information you share

Therefore remember to think carefully about what you are posting online as you never know what the consequences could be. I know many situations in which even someone you plan on dating will Google you.  So be mindful of what is currently out there and try to be careful about your posts.

Remember, what you post online will follow you around forever…