Keeping Your Business Safe Online

The new Time magazine coming out May 31, 2010 will feature on its front cover Facebook; and how they are redefining our privacy. I have always believed that if you are going to put anything online, you should consider that it might go public at any time. I have mentioned to my two daughters that once you post a picture or a comment on the web, it’s on there for good. It takes seconds to be stupid, but a lifetime to regret. Whenever I post something on the web, I always ask myself this question, “Would I mind if everyone in the world saw this?”

The question remains, “Should we care about our privacy anymore?” Or should we even care what we post online? I believe the answer is “Yes” to both questions. As a business I am on the Internet for business and I want people to find my information. But that’s not the same story for my two daughters. Since they are both on Facebook and they love to photograph themselves, I have changed their Facebook privacy sharing to “Friends Only”. And by the way, does anyone out there have a training course on how to turn the camera around for teens?

The problem with Facebook’s “Friends of Friends” privacy sharing setting is that if someone is my friend, they can view my daughter’s pictures and comments. I want their “invited” friends to see them only. And yes, you should check who they are friends with from time to time. Remember it’s your computer, you pay the bills and their brains are still being developed. Remember what you where like when you where a teenager? I don’t think I need to say anymore.

So take a look at what you are using and check the privacy settings. Make sure you understand what each level of privacy means and that you are comfortable with that level. Look at each online application and see how your information is being shared. Don’t just assume that the application developer is looking after you. Many applications start with settings that are wide open. So check them.

As a business my setting are wide open for most things. But there are a few things that I lock down from public eyes. On Facebook, for example, I don’t show my birthday, my political nor my religious status. People knowing your birthday online can result in identity theft. The others, they are personal things I share with friends. The things I keep wide open are my contact points, such as my phone number, my email address, my web site addresses and other information that could bring me business.

I am also careful about information shared as to my location. You might even see a post from me like this…”I’m in Halifax. I just finished filing my pit bull’s teeth and forgot to feed him. Hope nobody tries to get inside the house”. As funny as that sounds, we must always remember that there are people online watching us. I am thinking of starting to use a location application called “FourSquare”. This would help me connect with many of my friends when I am out and about; but I still need to be smart to be safe.

In summary, don’t just assume that the online company is looking after your privacy. You personal privacy is your business and you need to monitor what is happening with it. Every now and then you should “Google” yourself to see what is coming up. You may be surprised by what you see. Remember, don’t put stuff on the web that you don’t want the whole world to see. And before you hit the send button, think. Check spelling and content. And ask yourself…”Is this really what I want to say or reveal to others?” It’s your privacy, be smart about it.