Tips to protect your online persona
Online usage and social media is, in a sense, the modern wild west. It’s important to be thoughtful and conscious of what you’re putting out there to avoid issues now and in the future.
Actors and politicians often apologize for posts they made years ago on a platform that might not even exist anymore. The post might not represent who they are today, but it represents a thought he/she had at one time and is now a permanent part of his/her reputation, for better or for worse.
Here are some basic tips to help you have a better and more comfortable experience online:
- Keep personal information professional and limited.
The most important reason for this is your reputation. Anything you post may be accessible, even if you delete it. Companies often run searches before deciding to offer employment and you wouldn’t want a rant you made years ago to be the reason you lost a good job opportunity. I use the “Grandmother Guideline,” which means I consider what my grandmother would think if she read what I posted. If I have doubts about it, I do not post it.
- Keep your privacy setting on.
Though this sounds like common sense, you would be surprised how many times information is discovered due to a missed privacy setting. Take the time to learn about the privacy setting for the sites you use.
- Manage your friends.
This may seem like something you should not have to worry about but you should take this very seriously. If someone wants to get dirt on you, it may be through your friends. Ensure that your friends are true friends and the people you add to your private circle are the same. Don’t be afraid to remove someone in your friend circle from private conversations if you feel uncomfortable having them there. You can always add them back later.
- Be honest with your friends and acquaintances.
Honesty is always the most important thing. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to ask someone to remove or augment a post about you if you feel uncomfortable about it. You should never feel ashamed about what is posted about you. Remember the “Grandmother Guideline.”
Beyond the “keep it professional and limited” and the “Grandmother Guideline,” consider this before you post:
a. Never angry post. If you post while you’re angry, you may say things you will regret. Write it on paper and come back to it when you calm down. If you still feel strongly and want to post it, do so in a calmer, more neutral way.
b. When posting about someone, only post about them what you would want them to post about you. Follow the golden rule of “treat others as you want them to treat you.”
c. Don’t argue on social media. Just don’t
- Keep you accounts safe and secure
Use unique, strong passwords (10 characters or more with at least one upper and lower case letter and one symbol and/or number) for each account. If your service offers account verification such as two factor soft token or SMS text message, use it because it will help ensure that you are the only person accessing the account. Never share account information with anyone, even the people you trust. This again goes back to personal safety and reputation.
If you follow these basic tips, you will have a better experience online and will be less likely to have embarrassing information exposed about you.
Barry Salas is a senior security architect at Hawaiian Telcom. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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