Staying Safe and Private on Social Network Sites

Man, that party last night was really fun! Sure, we had a little bit too much to drink, but that picture of Lindsay looking so silly definitely needs to go on Facebook immediately, right?
The things you put on your Facebook are not as private as you might think. In fact, many employers are determining who they should hire based on Facebook pages. Graduate schools also look at Facebook or MySpace. And more and more parents are communicating over social media sites.
Do you really want gran-gran or uncle Percy to see the pictures of you from last weekend or the post you wrote on your friend’s wall?
There are a few easy steps you can take in order to protect your privacy on the web. It might take some time, but these three steps could reap great benefits in the future.
1. Be selective. Just because someone asks to be your friend on Facebook, doesn’t mean you have to accept them. I promise, if you ignore Johnny Doe, he will survive. If you don’t really know the person, you should not accept their friendship request. It could be some cute guy that is a friend of a friend of a friend, or it could be a future employer who is trying to see what kind of employee you would be. Just be careful about who you accept and who you allow to see your profile.
2. Change your search Settings. You can easily change who can search for you on your Settings page. Your options range from allowing everyone and their chicken to allowing only your best friends from first grade to find you. This page also allows you to edit what information is available on these search results. You can change it to allow your name, location, networks, and picture to be shown, or nothing at all.
3. Monitor your pictures. This one seems pretty obvious, but if a picture of you is compromising in any way, think about if you want your future employer, teacher, or family member to see it. If the answer is no, don’t post it and definitely don’t tag it. Chances are your friends will not be offended if you remove your tag, and it could be very beneficial in the future for everyone.
Facebook and MySpace and other social network sites are a lot of fun and a great way to stay in contact with people you care about. Just keep in mind that nothing is safe on the Internet and you should always think before you post.