Saturday, February 22, 2014

Reduce Your Online Risk

Reuse and Recycle Your Web Presence


The Web is the two-edged sword of the 21st century. It's the good, the bad, the pretty and the ugly. It's a wonderful world where helpful information and useful products are shared freely. But, on its dark side, predators lurk in the corners, waiting for an opportunity to rob us. Avoid the bad guys. Be safe, surf smart!


Hello Friends!

Today let's take a different route to recycling and talk about reducing, reusing and recycling our online personalities to make our Web travels as safe and pleasant as possible. I've been on the Internet since 1984 and, over the years, I've noticed some changes that have me concerned. I'd like to share these concerns with you so that we may change the tide and keep the Web a clean, healthy and positive place to gather together.

The Mystery of the Unknown Relative


As my mom found out recently, even an innocent post can wreak havoc on a person. Mom's name and the city in which she lived were listed in an online obituary. Mom wasn't alone in the list, there was a long  list of relatives. That announcement, meant for family members, 
almost cost my mom several thousand dollars. 

Mom received a phone call from a man claiming to be her nephew, he was in trouble and needed money. She was ready to open her checkbook but decided she needed to be certain of this man's identity. She did the smart thing. The man was an impostor. What if she had given in to her emotions to help someone she had not seen in decades?

How do we protect ourselves from online predators?


The Case for Privacy


Do you have friends that post pictures of their every waking moment? There are people on the Web that I've never met, but yet I've seen every day of their child's life. It's been a virtual tour of the child's first ultrasound, first breath, first time at church, first solid food, first birthday and first Christmas.

How do we protect our right to privacy?


When TMI is Too Much Information


The search engines encourage people to tell their personal stories. Maybe personal isn't the right word. Some writers take this encouragement to a level that is uncomfortable for many readers. I love reading stories about how people overcome challenges and adversities. I feel uncomfortable when these stories shed a bad light on another person. I quit reading stories that only talk about the negative side of the story without showing how the problem was overcome. This negativity is not productive.


How do we protect our integrity?

What Can You Do?


Avoiding predators, safeguarding privacy and promoting integrity are big jobs and these are essential jobs if the Web is to remain a safe, clean and healthy place to play and work. Here's how you can make a difference.



Reduce the Information You Share
Reduce references to your residence, place of work, birthdays and other personal details. Share only details that are essential and necessary. Make it hard for thieves to find you.

Reuse Photographs and Profiles
It's not necessary to flood the Internet with photos of every moment. Sometimes it is much more effective to reuse a few select profile pictures, pictures of family members and other recognizable images. 

Recycle Unproductive Information
Recycle any negative comments or feelings to the trash bin. Nothing is gained from an online rant or complaining session. On the Web, when you say something bad about a person or product, your comment cannot be erased or forgotten.

As a Web writer who shares personal stories in how-to articles, recipes and family tales, I always ask myself a few questions before I click the Publish button.
  • Would I share this with an absolute and total stranger? 
  • How much of my personal life do I want exposed to the entire world?
  • What impact will my story have on the lives of others?
  • Does my story share a useful skill or give the reader a positive feeling?
Giving a story or blog post time to sit before I publish has always been my best protector. Before I make a story public, I read every word, sentence and paragraph with a critical eye. Anything that I feel will put me in harm, violate my privacy or tarnish my reputation is tossed in the trash bin.

Until next week, be safe.

Coletta

13 comments:

  1. Great review and good recommendations, stay safe!

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  2. Always a good reminder not to share 'too much' with the 'wide world' so accessible today via the internet. Taking time to 'stop and think' before posting is an excellent plan.

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    1. Hi Elf! Yes, it is always good to think before you speak.

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  3. Thank you for the reminder to keep it safe! This is something I have struggled with for years. Mostly because others encourage and push to give more, tell more, share more. I don't have a problem sharing, but I do value my privacy and protect my personal information. So often we think we are just talking to friends and/or family online, but in fact we are talking to the world.

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    1. Hi Cynthia! Yes, it is difficult to maintain our privacy when our writing is public. With a little forethought, we can do a lot to protect ourselves.

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  4. Good advice, especially for those who share pictures of their children with the world ... There are predators out there just waiting to use those images and worse! Applying the three R's of recycling to use of family photos is a splendid idea!

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    1. It is always a good idea to take a close look at any photograph before posting it on the Web. It's a matter of privacy and of not bombarding your friends with too much of a good thing. Thank you!

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  5. Good information. It is completely possible to share personal stories without giving away information that can come back to haunt you. You have to find the happy medium. :D

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    1. Thank you, Mandee! Yes, it is possible to share stories without getting too personal. The trick is to self-edit and put yourself in your reader's shoes. How would you feel if you were a stranger reading the story?

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  6. I really appreciated what you shared about recycling things that are not productive. I want my posts to be uplifting and worthy of being read. I do worry greatly when I see so much information provided online about babies and young children. I think it's dangerous to make too much known about young members of the family. Predation is such a frightening reality.

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    1. Thank you, Renaissance Woman! Yes, I want my stories to be a positive influence and to teach useful skills. And, I want to protect our youth. I didn't grow up with an Instagram or Facebook, I can't imagine being a kid in this eWorld.

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  7. Excellent advice! Common sense and caution are very important when it comes to sharing online.

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    1. Thank you, MissMerFaery! Common sense in everything we do is important. Stop, look and listen. It's some of the best advice.

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