Social networking opened a new world for us to live in. The problem is that if we decide to stay out of it, we won’t be just missing some “news” about family and friends, but it now involves future job opportunities, college applications, and legal concerns, all because now online reputation really matters.
- Facebook has more than 800 million global users
- Over 19 million U.S. children between the ages of 13 and 17 are registered Facebook users (source www.checkfacebook.com)
- The average user has 130 friends
- People interact with over 900 million objects (pages, groups, and events)
- An average user creates 70 pieces of content each month
Social networking is not only connecting people on a large scale, but it provides an overwhelming flux of information, beyond what we can handle daily.
That is why it’s very important to learn about this environment and become very selective about who you connect with, as well as how much information you want to share and how you will participate.
Here are some basic guidelines:
- Privacy and security settings exist for a reason: Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way.
- Once posted, always posted: Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see. .
- Keep personal info personal: Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes such as stalking.
- Know and manage your friends: Social networks can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of the fun is creating a large pool of friends from many aspects of your life. That doesn’t mean all friends are created equal. Use tools to manage the information you share with friends in different groups or even have multiple online pages. If you’re trying to create a public persona as a blogger or expert, create an open profile or a “fan” page that encourages broad participation and limits personal information. Use your personal profile to keep your real friends (the ones you know and trust) more synched up with your daily life.
- Own your online presence: When applicable, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s OK to limit how you share information.
- Make passwords long and strong: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.
- Unique account, unique password: Using separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.
- When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.
- Post only about others as you have them post about you.