By Jacob Markey, LifeSmarts Summer 2010 intern When I was in high school, MySpace was the big social networking craze; then Facebook entered the scene and exploded in popularity. While many other sites are available today, Facebook is the dominant site of choice. With hundreds of millions of users, it now seems as if everyone from kids in middle school to my parents’ friends have a Facebook account! Since the December LifeSmarts topic area focuses on issues relating to Technology, a discussion about social networking and online safety tips is timely. Many people might see little reason to fear using social networking sites. After all, they are a great way to communicate with your friends, post pictures, and play games. But there is much to be aware of when using these Web sites. Your privacy and security may be at stake if you are careless and don’t take the proper steps to ensure that people can’t obtain information that could be used to hurt you. In addition, what you post on these sites could get you into a lot of trouble with friends, family, coworkers, and others (including future potential employers). With these concerns in mind, here are some quick, but vitally important, tips people should follow to stay safe online:
- Do not release or post personal information like your complete birth date, address, or phone number. Some people may use your information for shady activities like identify theft.
- Do not download something from a suspicious link. It could contain a virus, spyware, or other harmful information that could damage your computer and cost a lot of money to clean up or repair.
- Be careful about what you post and say online. An increasing number of employers are checking what their employees post on Facebook and when researching applicants to their companies. Inappropriate content, like badmouthing an employer or posting racy photos, could cost you a job!