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Privacy on the internet is a rare commodity, but many people are not aware of how easily others can use their private information. We see examples every day of people who have their privacy compromised, with harmful consequences. Taking precautions and avoiding certain actions help protect this privacy.

1. Keep Quiet About Business Matters

First, you should never air your business-related grievances. You may think that only your friends can see this information, but that is not true. Once something is online, it is essentially accessible by the public. Posting these private issues could seriously harm your relationships, as well as your credibility in the business world. It also could violate another person’s privacy, if the information is sensitive or personal. Before posting anything, think of how you might feel if your supervisor’s supervisor read the text. If you are uncomfortable with that thought, it’s better to avoid conflict and not share.

2. Don’t Share Inappropriate Photos

The next tip for what to avoid online is posting personal or distasteful photos. Potential employers can easily access your information, and if you share pictures of yourself in compromising situations, it may affect your standing as a candidate. Additionally, public figures have shared private photos, thinking it was going to one person. Many have stepped down from positions due to the shame and embarrassment of these situations. Before posting a photo, remember that if it is on the internet, it is public.

3. Passing Along False Information

Tip #3 is to avoid sharing or advancing questionable information. It is common knowledge to most that items posted, even on seemingly credible sources, are not necessarily true. Sharing photos or theories with others before checking the facts and sources simply furthers false information. Facebook is a common source for this problem, with users sharing photos that will supposedly save lives with a specific number of likes. Check out every story or photo before sharing.

4. Draw the Line Between Personal and Public

Another behavior to avoid is sharing too much of your personal life on your pages. We all have a friend on social media who over-shares, whether complaining about a spouse or venting about a frustration. You don’t need to share everything in your life on your social media sites; use discretion and decide how this may affect someone else. Also, consider how your friends may view you after reading this information, as well as how they may view the person about whom you are talking. You might forgive and forget, but your friends may not.

5. Make Sure You Are You

The last tip is to avoid creating an online persona that is different from your own. With the onslaught of “catfish,” or people who pretend they are someone else, it may seem tempting to gain fame. However, the truth always comes out, and it ruins your credibility. Stick to your own personality when posting things online, and you will never have anything to hide. It is also smart to make sure your provider offers security settings, such as those offered by InternetServiceProviders.com.

6. Use Your Discretion

The internet is a great resource, and with the right amount of discretion, is a great tool to find and share information, as well as build and keep up relationships.

Resources: The Online Mom, How Stuff Works, Teen Advice

This is a guest post by writer Jessica Salt. To get in touch with Jessica, follow her on Twitter @thejessicasalt.