Protecting your online profile

Tips & Hints

Every village has an idiot and there's a particular brand of idiot who's attracted to the perceived anonymity of the Internet. Being big communities, online networking sites like Facebook and MySpace combine the problem of having a lot of idiots who think they can't be held responsible for what they do in cyberspace.

Last week we saw this with the shameful behaviour on Facebook where posters defaced memorial pages to a murdered girl. That disgraceful episode shows why it's important to take precautions against idiots online. Here's some ideas on protecting your online profile;

Take responsibility

You are responsible for what you post so if you create a Facebook fan page, LinkedIn group or blog then you need to maintain it, particularly the comments. If the posters become unwieldy then you need to moderate them or turn off visitor comments. Remember too that you are responsible for comments you make and the messages left on your site.

Be careful with joining groups

In life you are judged by the company you keep and the same applies online. If you join a group full of idiots you'll be identified as one of them. Worse, those fools will be attracted to people they consider to be like minded. Think twice before accepting invitations.

Choose friends wisely

It's tempting with Internet networking sites to try and get as many friends as possible. That misses the point of these tools and it increases the likelihood idiots will become part of your circle. Only allow people you know to connect. Using Facebook for family and friends while referring business colleagues to LinkedIn is a common way of separate work and social life online.

Avoid strangers

We tell our kids not to accept lollies from strangers yet many otherwise sensible adults link up with people they don't know. Avoid doing this unless you are absolutely sure of who they are. The famous cartoon of "on the Internet nobody knows you're dog" is true of thieves, stalkers and all manner of knaves.

Hide your details

Don't go overboard spilling out your personal life to strangers. The more details you give out, the easier it is for troublemakers to find you or steal your identity. Keep the musings about your cats and your children to your close friends.

Used well, Internet networking tools are a fantastic feature of the Internet which can enrich your life and the lives of those around you. however all tools can be misused so be aware of the risks of these tools and act responsibly.

Remember if things get uncomfortable you can hit the delete button and turn the computer off. It's best to do that at the first sign of trouble.

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