Everything you do online.. viewing, searching, blogging, downloading, uploading etc. is a choice. No one is forcing you to interact online or have an online presence. It’s up to you to decide what you want to share and the amount of privacy you want.
There are many reasons why people are paranoid about sharing information online. Stalking and itentity theft are real problems; but they can happen to you even if you don’t go on the computer. I find that most people I know who are scared about sharing online know very little about social networks or privacy settings. Others don’t trust the security that big companies like Google or Facebook provide, which is a valid concern. But, your home connection probably leaves you more unprotected than the security measures that these companies have. Hackers are just the criminals of our time; theives have always existed and will always exist. I think we should be aware of the dangers online and educated about what we can do to protect ourselves. Don’t miss out on what the Internet, social networks and other online systems can offer because of fear. As Roosevelt said many years ago “All we have to fear is fear itself.”
I have other friends who choose not to participate online because they’d rather not share life happenings with their friends on Facebook or Google +, or they think it’s a waste of time. Others have become so addicted they feel they need to go cold turkey so they delete their accounts- this never lasts for long. For me personally, I think moderation is the key to healthy online activity.
Social networking is not the only facet of online privacy. One of the most important ways to keep yourself protected online is to have strong passwords and not to share them with anyone. Don’t write them down next to your desk, don’t say them outloud in a busy room, don’t tell your best friend. I remember helping a teacher edit their Moodle page in the library (I won’t name names) and he annouced his password and asked if it was a good password. A couple of weeks later, he discovered that he profile picture had changed to a distateful picture of this large man. We never found the culprit because they used his password to login and change it. To say the least he was very embarrased, poor guy, but I think he learned his lesson.
Photo credit : http://community.secondlife.com
I feel strongly that we must teach students about privacy settings, keeping passwords secure and being responsible online. Education and knowing how to protect ourselves online is the best safegaurd online. Here is a Youtube clip about Facebook privacy setting, something all FB users should know.