Top 10 Tips For Safe Social Networking

Congressman's Antony Weiner's very public downfall had all the earmarks or a memorable and slacious scandal. He was a rising political star, she a porn star with some tech savvy. Together they shared one or more promiscuous, and weiner thought, private online exchanges that would be his undoing. Weiner made a host of mistakes, but was mostly felled by astoundingly bad misjudgment about social interaction on the web. What happened to former congressman weiner is, without a doubt, a cautionary tale, but it should also serve as a lesson in for everyone about social media. Here are 10 tips to help you avoid your own personal Weinergate.
  1. Don't assume your digital correspondence is private.
  2. Our memories are faulty. What we see and hear is often misheard, or misremembered. Computers have perfect memories. What you say online, what you post, is a perfect reproduction of the original. It can all be saved, it can all be retrieved or recovered (Google Search, in particular, can index everything), Facebook, e-mail, instant messages, Twitter DMs can all, one way or the other, be copied and shared.
  3. Don't post anything you don't want others to see.
  4. Congressman Anthony Weiner perfected the "take a picture in the minnor" pose. He always held the smartphone in just the right place and had his body posed just so. It's a gift. The most common photo you see on Facebook of most America teens is also the mirror shot. Thankfully, most photos are tame, but we've all seen enough leaked naughty pics of starlets to know that people just can't resist the temptation to share a saucy photo with their current paramour. If you don't want your parents, friends and co-workers to see these shots-don't take them and don't share them with anyone.
  5. Manage your privacy settings.
  6. No one is going to stop using social networks, so let's at least close up the Swiss-cheese-like security holes in each of them. Services like Facebook often start out in sharing mode. You want dig in and make sure that what you do share to your Facebook friends cannot be shared outside your social circle. Groups, by the way, are a good thing and will help you and your friends keep the conversation to a chosen few. In flickr,a service that will share first. You have to remember to restrict photo viewing to friends and family.
  7. Share with fewer people.
  8. Twitter, Facebook, even good old fashioned e-mail, make it super-simple to share thoughts with larger and larger groups of people> Many on Twitter actively seek to grow their lists of followers so they can share more to many. It's a wonderful thing, until you accidentally share the thing you never wanted to with everyone. Look at your lists of friends, e-mail contacts and lists. Twitter followers and start culling. Cut the lists down and start sharing less with a much more trusted group of people.
  9. Clear out old accounts.
  10. Part of living the online social life style is signing up with every new social network in existence. They're all so much fun and so interesting. Problem is they all ask for your info and typically are sucking in information about your other social activities on other sites. Over time, you stop using many of these services-we typically only use two or three at a time- but the remnants of your former self on these now disused services remain. Go clean house. Shut down the accounts and regain control of your digital existence.
  11. Keep a record of your own correspondence.
  12. Since you know that everything you write and post online can be copied, and will persist even if you delete it, start keeping records of your own digital correspondence. Keep all personal Tweets, important e-mails and key personal interactions on Facebook. Be sure you have a copy of all photos you've posted. People you've corresponded with should not be the only ones who have this data. Having it all at your fingertips will give you a more global view of how you comport yourself in the digital world-and proof in case anyone tries to misrepresent what you've done online.
  13. Don't say anything to anyone online that you wouldn't say to their face.
  14. We get very brave online. We yell (ALL CAPS) and say nasty things to other people. In real life (IRL) we'd never be that bold. The rules should not be different online. Use good sense in IRL and online. If you're really angry, take a deep breath, count to ten and then take a short walk. When you sit back down in front of your computer you'll realize that sending that e-mail, making the Facebook post or Tweeting that bit of venom was a stupid idea.
  15. Don't share your location.
  16. I don't have a problem with location-aware services, but I would turn off all broadcast features that tell the various social networks exactly where you are at any given time. Also, do not post a note on any social network that you're going on vacation. This is an invitation for criminals to visit you home.
  17. Don't post pictures of your children.
  18. If you have not managed your privacy settings in Facebook, you simply can't post personal photos. Do you want people outside your inner circle of family and friends to know you have young children?
  19. Children under 13 should not be on these social networks.
  20. Your children will start asking for access to social networks long before they become teenagers. Just say no. Children, in particular do not understand how emotion and intent get mixed up on social network entries and things can quickly spiral quit of control If they press, put them on Club Penguin, it's safe, fun and will likely keep them happy until they turn 13. Permit them to join social networking sites for kids

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