Staying safe, savvy and social

Recently, I was interviewed on the TV show “Let’s Talk” with Lindsey Dawson, talking about social media in general and being safe, savvy and still social. It prompted me to take a refreshed look at some of the most common social networking sites we use and point out a few of the things you might want to look at with regard to privacy and staying safe online.

As everything you post online stays around on Google and the other search engines for gazillions of years, its important to think a little longer term than the immediate fun of posting some types of comments and some of those pictures you may not exactly be proud of. Certainly when I look at some of the comments I see on my nephews Facebook page I cringe, because as a great 19 year old young man, he is not exactly thinking about his future career and how a simple search of his name could bring back a few comments, that to a future employer say, it might mean him not getting that job.

There is very little you can do when something has been published online that you would rather not be public, but what you do have control of is what you post yourself.

If in doubt, leave it out.

For many, when they go online, their persona changes from the nice, mild mannered person they are in person, to someone who doesn’t mind voicing their opinion in a no holes barred kind of way. For example, a spot of bad customer service received somewhere and the brand is named and shamed in public, damage done. I have done it myself, I have been angry at something and taken to the keyboard to vent my spleen and when you think that you are actually publishing something, you could be done for libel. Just like a newspaper, if it is found to be untrue, there are consequences.

So how can you stay safe online to make sure that your “mates” are not dropping you into things that you might not be responsible for? Have a look at your privacy settings on Facebook.

You can customize what you allow people to see, and what you allow your friends to do on your behalf.

By default, you are allowing your friends to check you in to places, places where you might not actually be. It’s a good idea to disable this function for obvious reasons.

  1. Beware of showing your full date of birth, maybe use the setting of display month and date, just not the year.
  2. Never live chat with complete strangers.
  3. If you use Foursquare for checking into places, don’t add your own home and check in and out. Hmm.
  4. The same goes if you work from home and you have a business Facebook page with the Foursquare widget on it, or places enabled. Don’t let others know when you are not home.
  5. Decide who can see your photos, from friends only to everyone. If you close this down to just friends only, those are the only people who will see them, so even if they are shared, they won’t be seen by unauthorized eyes.

It’s not all meant to be bad news and scary stuff, but please, stay safe, stay savvy and stay social.

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