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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How to Protect Yourself on Social Networking Sites

When training others on the power of social networking, I am often asked about privacy and protecting oneself while on these sites. This is a great question as one’s social network grows at an accelerated rate. It is important to know that sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Twitter are watching any unusual activities, profiles and content. They remove any offenders right away. If something is reported they will conduct an investigation of that profile.

Have you done an Internet search on your name lately? Any public information about you is relatively easy for any researcher to find. By contrast, you have control over the information you share on Social Network sites. So relax and explore. I encourage you to have fun in this amazing new world. Share this with your kids, friends, and colleagues they may be using these sights, the more we share the knowledge, the more we have the power.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Step 1.

If you choose to sign up for an account on a social networking site you are exposing yourself to people. Your decision to sign up for the site (to reconnect with high school friends or to network with potential employers) may be a great one, but you have still exposed your life to anyone who wants to see. One option is to set your profile to private, which many sites allow you to do. By doing this, however, a person has to be your "friend" on the site in order for them to view your information. If you are networking and want people to find out about you, this may not be the best option.


Screen the people who request to be your friend. Do you know them? If not, why are they asking? Don't think you have to say yes to everyone because you want a lot of friends, that could lead to a lot of trouble. On some sites you are able to send a message to them without becoming friends, so do that first if you feel comfortable enough to...why do they want to be your friend? There is so much talk about children online and predators searching for them, but there are also the predators who may be searching for something else. It's never a bad idea to be cautious and thorough when accepting friend requests.


Don't put up a lot of personal stuff. It's fine to put up your relationship status and things of that sort, but including an address, phone number, occupation, even your name, is sometimes NOT a smart thing to do. This just makes it easier for those potential predators to track you down if they want to. Most social networking sites have an "About Me" section and that is where you usually say a little about yourself. Include the basics, maybe you have to say what you do for a living in order to network with people, but don't reveal too much.


Including photos of yourself is OK, professional ones are best, maybe a few with friends, but don't include racy photos of yourself, it just makes you more of a target then another person.


The final thing to do is make sure your account is secure. There are hackers that will break into account after account and steal personal things. If you notice that your account has been hacked, change passwords immediately.

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