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Protecting Your Information Online

Everyone has an online profile these days, but sometimes we aren’t aware of how to make sure that what we post online stays private. Remember – what goes online is pretty much there for life. Here are some tips that can help you protect your online reputation:

  • Are your security settings set to “Friends Only?” Websites like Facebook update their security settings often (and usually without warning), so check your settings at least once a week. Make sure the settings are as private as you’re comfortable with – you don’t want strangers liking your pictures do you?!
  • Is there any swearing on your profile? Posting things online can seem harmless, but they can actually affect your future. For example, if there’s swearing all over your profile, your future employers could find it – and they probably wouldn’t be impressed with your language!
  • If a police officer looked at your profile, would you be worried about what they could find? Are there are any pictures of you online doing anything illegal (like underage drinking or doing drugs)?  If you wouldn’t want a police officer to see it then leave it offline, because anything online is fair game to be used by police officers. Or better yet, just make sure you aren’t doing anything the police would have to deal with.
  • Have you met each of your contacts? You may add complete strangers to your profile to make new friends, or to make your friend count higher. Whatever the reason, allowing strangers to see all of your personal information is just creepy. If you wouldn’t share personal details with a stranger on the street, then why let them access it online?
  • Does the message look suspicious? What scammers, hackers and phishers are able to pull off these days is endless. Bottom line is, if it looks suspicious, don’t click it. If you get a message from a friend or stranger and it looks kind of sketchy, ask the sender personally if the message came from them before you open it.
  • Can strangers find you? Sharing details like your first name and gender are okay, and so is sharing your general location (e.g. “Canada” or “Ottawa”). But sharing things like your phone number, home address or even what school you go to makes it easy for anyone to find you. If you don’t want to get spammed, end up a victim of identity theft or let Joe Shmoe know where you live, then keep personal information like your phone number and email address off your profile.