The internet has changed the way we communicate. One of the ways we are connecting online is through social networking sites. I keep hearing about the amazing opportunities it provides. I love to use them as well. However, use of these sites has some risks, because they have the potential to expose our personal information throughout the digital world, making our private lives public. I felt compelled to share some of my concerns.
Usually there are no fees involved to use social networking sites. The only requirement is to create a membership prior to use. However, it may cost you your privacy. Some information the sites may require are full names, photos, gender, current city, hometown, date of birth, phone number, and email address. We willingly fill out the required information to gain access and use their site. With each click, like, comment or post our digital footprint is left behind.
In addition to the required information, we voluntarily share intimate details about our lives through our posts, status updates, photos, and blogs. We share about when and where we are going on vacation and thoughts about our relationships, religious views, political views and our careers. All of our information is collected and stored which may allow a browser search to reveal our names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, occupations, salary, hobbies, photos of our children and our homes. In order to protect our personal information, we must be proactive in our usage.
In order to protect ourselves online, we must be aware of how we interact with others online. We should ask ourselves what parts of our lives we want to keep private. Every thought, every photo, every place we go doesn’t need to be public information. We should think before we post, clean up old posts, documents and other information about us online. We can do this by managing our friends’ lists, deleting old photos, comments and page likes.
Ultimately, it is the user’s responsibility to use discernment when sharing information online. That is where privacy settings come into play. Most social networking sites have given users privacy tools to manage their viewers. However, the default setting tends to be public. If users don’t activate privacy settings their information is available to the public. Users should modify their preferences, update privacy settings, and use discernment when submitting comments and posts.
Although, social networking sites allow users to communicate with others throughout the world, they also allow our private information to become available to the public. In order to reduce personal information exposure online, social networking site users need to be cognizant of the information they share and who is viewing it. Our private lives don’t have to become completely public.
I believe this will be helpful when creating a PLN. Our private lives reflect in our professional lives. Our behavior in both is important.