We’ve all heard that we should be careful of the information we put on the Internet but how many of us actually listen to this advice? There are news stories and movies made about what can happen when we put our personal information online, yet many people believe that nothing bad will happen. The truth is that it can be quite dangerous to share private information in any setting; the Internet just makes it easier.
Social networking sites have changed the modern generation. We put up tweets and Facebook statuses about every minute thing we do. Every picture taken at a party goes up on the web (whether the subjects are mentally stable or not) and every gripe about a job or professor is tweeted or turned into a status message. These things can affect you in many ways...if not now, then in the future: They can prevent you from getting a job or getting into school and people who post their addresses, phone numbers and emails are not only at risk of identity theft but could be stalked...or worse.
If you have not adjusted the privacy settings on your personal profiles, change them immediately. When someone friends you and you’re not sure you know them, decline the request or message them to get more information. Don’t volunteer private information about where you live or work to anyone, including using “check in” applications like those on Facebook and foursquare. Sure, it’s fun to let your friends know you’re using your hard-earned work-study dollars to treat yourself to a meal outside the dining hall but if your privacy settings are too low, everyone with access to your pages will know where you are at any given time. You could return to your dorm to find your laptop missing.
In the most basic of terms, when it comes to sharing information online, be cautious and trust your gut.
Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.