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The rising popularity of online social networking has changed the way Americans view privacy. Once a treasured social norm, privacy has become disturbingly ignored. The willingness to share every detail of day-to-day life with an unseen audience has eroded away a very key personal right – the right to freedom from unauthorized intrusion. You see, everything posted on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or other social networking sites is fair game and can be used against us by anyone monitoring those sites. And, it might surprise you to know just who could be watching.
– Police use social networking sites in their investigations.
– Homeland Security monitors social sites for key words. Post the wrong ones and they will flag your account and watch you 24/7.
– Prospective employers, bosses and even insurance-company defense lawyers scrutinize social sites in their hunt for damning information.
– Burglars use social sites to target potential victims.
Don’t allow yourself to become a victim of internet stalking. Protect yourself, use common sense and follow a few simple rules:
1. Adjust your Facebook settings to limit those who can follow you (friends only is best). Check the “who can look me up” setting, too. Change the setting to “friends” and turn the search-engine link off.
2. Be in charge of your tweets. Go to your security and privacy settings. If you haven’t checked the box next to “Protect my Tweets”, do so. This will allow you to approve who receives your tweets, rather than your tweets being open to the public.
3. Be mindful of what is going on in your life and what you post on the internet. Incriminating information is obvious (i.e. don’t brag about your hit-and-run accident). Something as simple as “I’m good” can be used against you as well (for example, if you have an open personal injury claim).
4. Do not call in sick to work and then post pictures of yourself enjoying the local amusement park.
5. Do not post that you are on vacation while you are on vacation. Update your social sites upon your return.
We can’t say it enough: common sense is the key to using social media safely. You wouldn’t hang a sign on your front door announcing to the world that you’ll be gone on vacation, so why post the same on your Facebook page? It just doesn’t make sense. Take charge of your privacy and right to freedom from unauthorized intrusion by selecting the correct privacy settings and taking care when you post. It may just save you a whole lot of misery down the road.