Playing IT safe: Social networking
UCT offers you access to the internet primarily to assist you with completing your work. However, you may choose to occasionally access social networking sites such as Facebook. Social networking allows you to connect with people across all walks of life, in places that you haven't visited and may never visit in your lifetime. You can create an online identity, talk about issues close to your heart and relate to others who have similar interests. Great! But have you ever stopped to consider what personal information you are placing in the public domain?
What you post today could affect your future
The internet, along with its marvels, can also become a repository of information that could possibly haunt you in the future. Be careful of the image that you portray when creating your profile. While you may want to be known as the “cool, social, party animal” now, or proudly post a photograph of your bits and pieces, is that the image you'll want to portray when you are job hunting a few years from now?
Remember that awesome party - when you ended up on Jammie steps at 4 am with someone else's underwear on your head? You posted those photos to your timeline together with some details of what went down. Come graduation time, you may want to remove those pictures. Well, this is going to prove more difficult than you think.
It is simply not possible to remove all traces of your online persona once it is out there. Information is cached on many, many servers all around the world and trying to get a photo removed from a website is challenging and time consuming. Do you really want to have to cut through bureaucratic red tape and deal with a vast array of different search engine companies just to get them to remove information that you posted in one wasted moment?
Don't give out too much personal information
Be aware of what information you include in your profile. Don't publish information that could compromise you or cause you to be placed in danger. Don't assume that everyone you come into contact with online has the same set of values as you. There can be a darker side to social networking and it is up to you to protect your identity and to not compromise your safety. Phone numbers, addresses, banking details, and other identifiable information should not be published on the internet. The last thing you'd want is some stalker tracking you down because you provided them with an online roadmap.
You don't own any information you post on Facebook
So if you were thinking of publishing your own poetry or your mini-novel, think twice and read the Facebook policy (http://www.facebook.com/policy.php). They own the site, including all content.
Anyone can see what you've posted
Yes, even your lecturers and your parents - enough said! Change the default settings so that you allow only certain individuals or groups to view your profile. Play it safe.