Privacy and Protection on the Internet

Are you safe? In the “olden days” before the Internet, we often worried about Big Brother (our government) snooping on our every action and word. Now, in these modern times, we joyfully, willingly share, even sometimes in excruciating detail, our personal lives on Social Media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

I had to dial things back a bit when a younger friend and his wife began tweeting about their successes and failures in potty training their infant son.  That was going a bit too far – I can’t think of anyone, including Grandpa and Grandma, that would want to hear about that. Recently I’ve been asked a lot about protecting oneself and one’s identity while online. The first time it came up, I thought “Why would you not want to share?” The second time though, I began to realize that there were very real concerns.

Facebook is definitely sensitive to security concerns. In the privacy settings area, you have a very granular control over who can see what information. For example, if someone tags you in a photo, you can determine from four default choices who should see it OR you can customize the setting to meet your specific needs, even going so far as to detail which friends can access certain information about you. If you have agreed to use or install any Facebook applications, you can also go in and customize the privacy settings for each of them. If you don’t want people to be able to find you in a global Facebook search, you can either turn it off or change the settings as well.

LinkedIn also provides you with tools giving you a high degree of control over your privacy and what is available to the public at large and to you connections. They have seven different main links under Privacy settings alone that let you control what information others can view about you and your profile.

What we are faced with in 2009 is that Social Media networks are a fantastic way to communicate with others about your business or passion. We each have to determine how and what is appropriate to share in different circumstances and in different networks. Remember that they are SOCIAL media networks so it is important to share something a bit personal about you but that doesn’t mean you need to share every part of your life or even share everything with everyone to the same degree.

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