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Socially wired: How much info is too much?
Have you ever shared a picture online for friends to see? Maybe you’ve arranged to meet up with someone by posting an invite on their Facebook wall, or attended a concert and live tweeted about it? Have you ever stopped to wonder how the information you’re sharing might be used?
It’s hard to ignore the lure of social networking sites. They’re user friendly and provide a quick and convenient way to interact with people. With the click of a button, you can share photos, thoughts, interests, information… for the entire wired world to see.
While the benefits of social networking sites are undeniable, these services are not without their risks. A few seemingly simple posts can actually reveal a lot of information about you — information that could put your security, both professional and personal, at risk.
Did you know?
According to a 2010 Statistics Canada Survey, 86 percent of Internet users under the age of 35 use social networking sites.
Read the following series of posts and comments made by someone who uses social networking sites. Using each post, try to piece together details about the author’s identity.
Please note that the following entries are not real; both the author and content have been fabricated “offline” and are entirely fictitious.
Comment: It makes working late in December worth it.
Celebrating my last year in my 30s tonight with the wife and kids.
Band members: J. Doe (lead vocals), J. Smith (drums), K. Peters (guitar)
Events: Live set every Thursday night from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Join us at the Crown and Clover Bar, 1 Somerset Street, Ottawa.
See if you can answer the following questions about the person who wrote these posts:
- What is his name?
- Where does he work?
- What is his field of work?
- What is his marital status?
- What city does he live in?
- What street does he live on?
- What time is he away from his home every week?
Remember, while a post on a social networking site may seem innocent, it can reveal a piece of information about you that’s perhaps best left private. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security — be savvy about what you want others to know.
Tips and tricks for safer social networking
Think before you post
Never put anything on the Web that you wouldn’t put on a bulletin board for all to see.
Create an alter-ego
Consider creating two social networking identities — one for your personal life and one for the “fun” activities of social networking. Games and other applications encourage you to add more friends for a fuller experience, but often this leads to adding people you don’t know to your friends list. Unleash your inner super villain, and create a fun alternate identity for using games and other social networking applications.
Be careful when clicking on links
If a link has a suspicious title, don’t click on it. These are often scams that can potentially redirect your computer to a malicious site.
Be careful where and how you connect
If you connect to social networking sites in a public place via an unsecured wireless connection, always log in securely using https:// (for example: https://www.facebook.com). If you don’t connect securely, someone on the same network could hack into your session and gain access to your account.
Don’t divulge your location
Whether you’re on vacation or at your favourite restaurant, don’t “check in” or post a status update revealing your location. By letting people know where you are, you could also help burglars know where you are not.
Choose unique passwords
Use a unique password for each social networking site. Never use the same password for banking or other confidential information.
Know your privacy settings
Rather than relying on default settings, set your privacy to the highest possible level. Don’t share everything with everyone, only with people you trust.
Keep it clean
Don’t think that your personal account can’t be found by a principal, teacher, relative, boss or potential employer. Keep those embarrassing photos or comments offline.
When in doubt, leave it out
If you’re unsure about whether it’s okay to post something, it's best to leave it out.
ISSN 1927-0275 = Dimensions (Ottawa. Online)