Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Remember the internet is public" Day

Something happened recently that made me remember that the internet isn't private, that everything that's posted online can potentially be accessed until the end of time. Ok, so I guess that last bit was melodramatic, but really, one in five employers reject a candidate based on info they found online. And that study was done nearly two years ago, it's probably higher now.

And it's not just employers, you know that blog you started in 2005, when your son was 11, and where you posted really embarrassing stories about him with funny but unflattering pictures and referred to him by his full name. Well, that kid's 16 now, and his classmates and potential girlfriend will find it.

So I'm declaring today as "Remember the Internet is Public" Day.

A few things you can do to protect yourself:
  • Set your facebook to the highest possible privacy settings. 
  • If someone tags you with a picture that you wouldn't want your employer/potential spouse/mother to find, ask them to delete it, or at least ask them to change their privacy settings to "friends only".
  • Go through your blog and delete things that could affect someone negatively in the future, ie cause yourself or your spouse/family to get fired/never hired, in trouble with the law (ok, so that's pretty extreme, but ...), etc. 
  • Don't post stuff on twitter something that could cause you or your spouse/family to get fired/never hired, etc.
  • When you post on twitter, remember that it can now be googled. To stop this from happening, you might want to use abbreviations or misspellings instead. For instance, you can tweet about A. in Wunderland.
  • When you post on twitter, remember that tweets are now being preserved by the Library of Congress.
Yes self-censorship sucks, but consider the consequences.


  1. The only addition I would make to that is to point out that if enough people use the same abbreviation or misspelling, your cover will be blown!

    These are all good points, Thea. If it feels like self censorship, consider that it's not just employers who can find stuff online - so can cranky exes and potential stalkers. Then it becomes a matter of sensible precaution.

  2. Very interesting about the tweets...

    Excellent advice! I'm always very careful about what I post on my blog; there are times that I want to write more personal things, but in the end I always choose to be safe (and not have to worry about who might read it).

    I hope whatever happened wasn't serious/creepy!

  3. Thanks for the reminder Thea. I think that sometimes we people don't think about these things.

  4. Thanks for posting this! I didn't know about the Twitter thing, even though I'm very careful at my blog and on Facebook.

  5. Thanks for your comments.

    And not to worry Alexandra, nothing serious or creepy happened, it's just a topic that's been on my mind for a long time.

  6. Anonymous3:20 PM

    Don't see what it's got to do with your employer what you do in your private life, as long as it does not impact on your work. Nosey cows!!