Many of you have either seen the video or heard the story about ‘Dave the Psychic’. If not, here’s a brief account. Dave acted as a psychic and chose random people from the streets of Brussels and convinced them to participate in a TV show called ‘Dave the Psychic.’ He then led each person into an isolated tent and sat at a table holding the participant’s hands, pretending to feel their energy. He then revealed many personal facts such as the color of their house, the type of their vehicle, ages and names of their kids, and even some intimate details like the locations of tattoos on their body. Sounds pretty realistic, right? In reality, Dave was no psychic. His only talent was a team of web-browsing experts behind a curtain that looked up the participant’s personal information on the web and on social media and relayed the same to Dave through a hidden earphone. This social experiment was intended as a public service to bring awareness to an alarming trend where people give out too much information (TMI) online.
According to Ask Your Target Market’s research, 35% of those who have shared personal information said they have regretted sharing some of that information.
The information you post online discourteously has a shelf life of eternity. Sure, your baby dancing in a diaper to hokey pokey is adorable when he or she is two-years-old and garners countless likes and shares. But fast-forward to the future, and we all know what happens in middle school and after. Numerous stories of personal information posted online being used for harmful motives have surfaced since the dawn of the internet. Even when the author has no malicious intent with the post, his or her actions will sometimes have unintended consequences.
According to PEW Research Center, a typical (median) teen Facebook user has 300 friends, while the typical teen Twitter user has 79 followers.
We may not always do what is right or appropriate. We often do what feels right in the moment. A multitude of factors also dictates and influence our actions at any given time. Nevertheless, all of us need to be careful about what we post online and follow some helpful tips while doing so.
Tips for safe social media use
- Think before you post, text, or email. Could this information be used against you in some form later? Did you send it to your intended audience?
- Establish stringent privacy settings, and review and update them frequently.
- Don’t post your personal information like your physical address, phone numbers or date of birth, etc.
- Limit or avoid your use of location-based check-in options on social networking sites.
- Don’t brag about embarrassing things you have done. You never know who is monitoring.
- Don’t post work-related information on personal pages, especially client details or project specifics.
- Stay away from social media when you are inebriated or angry.
45 percent of U.S. adults feel that they have little or no control over the personal information companies gather while they are browsing the Web or using online services.
Employers and college admission officers gather information online to screen their applicants. There are also identity thieves that impersonate people to make fraudulent transactions. The stories are endless. If we are not watching what we post now, we might have to pay a price later. Conducting yourself in the virtual world the same way you would in the real world, with discretion and dignity, will save you a lot of trouble and embarrassment.
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