In the age online sharing (and over sharing), opting for privacy is nearly becoming a social faux pas.
Think about it. Have you ever noticed the snub you get if you untag yourself from a photo, hide a post someone put on your page, or leave group conversations? Have you felt the digital shiver when you choose not to follow someone back or don’t accept a friend request? Make any of these social blunders online and you might find yourself unfriended off line.
We’d like to take this opportunity to offer a reality check and ever-so-kind reminder that any and all of these consequences really are okay. Just because everyone around you is caught up in the momentum of sharing every photo, every location, and every big (and marginal) detail of life, doesn’t mean you have to follow suit.
Don’t give in to the digital peer pressure to forgo privacy at every turn.
In fact, we encourage you to move in the opposite direction. That’s right, we’d rather you compromise your social life than compromise your privacy and personal safety.
The little things you do to strengthen your boundaries online will add up. Here are 7 easy things you can do to recover and safeguard your privacy online.
- Revisit your settings. Go over your privacy settings on any social network you frequent. On Facebook make sure your default privacy setting is “Friends Only.” Also, use the “Custom” setting to achieve maximum privacy and to control who sees your content.
- Edit, edit, edit! Go through your online photos or posts and take down any content that might reveal too much about your personal or family routine.
- Become ageless. Delete your birthday, age, or birthplace on all social networks. This information could be useful to an identity thief or to data mining companies.
- Toss your [cyber] cookies. Delete all cookies every time you leave a social networking site. You can do this by going to “Preferences” and choosing the “Privacy” icon on most PCs. The menu will allow you to pick and choose the cookies you want to delete since not all cookies are bad.
- Lock your digital doors. If you’re connecting to the Internet through a wireless connection be sure to password protect that connection. View this safeguard the same way you would view locking your doors. Use a WPA type encryption and choose a password that would be very difficult for anyone else to guess.
- Run anti-virus software. Having a strong antivirus program running on your computer is not only smart it’s critical. A worthy antivirus program will automatically remove any questionable files and give you protection from botnets, data thieves, and the latest threats to your privacy.
- Click defensively. Be fully present and aware of the kind of content you are posting, with whom you are talking, and what links you click. This daily caution is equivalent to driving defensively. If it helps (and we believe it might), repeat this mantra before you log on: “It’s okay not to share, it’s okay not to share . . .”
Choosing privacy over sharing prompts (not everywhere online) will take intentional, daily effort before safe online habits become a way of life. The small measures you take today will go a long way in protecting you and your family into the future. Plug in this new way of thinking in your life and teach your kids to do the same. It’s worth it.