Recently we’ve been subjected to some high profile hacks and attacks on our beloved Facebook and Twitter. This leaves a BIG question – with our information available across many different social networking platforms, should we reign in how open we are with our personal information?
I firmly believe that in this web 2.0 world, people participating in open conversations online should be open about who they are and what they do. Take for example Twitter update protection. Do you follow someone who has set their updates to be private?
Personally, I don’t (I’m @geetarchurchy btw). I want to know what they have to hide on such an open platform. If a tweep is using twitter and posting information that is confidential, then a) they shouldn’t be posting it and b) there are plenty of closed network micro blogging platforms such as Yammer, which will do just as good a job.
However, we must be aware that there people out there who want to take our information and use it for malign purposes, which means we have to be very careful with what information we post online, and in particular, on the big social networks that are attractive to hackers.
But, it’s not just the physical information, such as a phone number or address, that can give scammers and spamers all the data they need to start causing havoc. What about the images that you are posting on Facebook and Flickr? Think about the context of the images you’re uploading. If you upload hundreds of holiday photos, this will let potential malignant types know you are a fan of travelling abroad – if they were to get access to your e-mail address, they could potentially send you phishing e-mails puporting to be offering travel advice/insurance/deals.
But, these photos are a big part of your online identity – they tell people just as much about who you are as a person as a 4 paragraph about me section on your blog.
Where do you set the balance? Treat the Internet as your business card – if there is anythin you’d rather your employer didn’t see, don’t upload it. This will minimise the amount of material about yourself that will be on the web AND still allow you enough room to have a personality, rather than being a bunch of adjectives in a box.