Personal privacy is important. We live in an increasingly interconnected world; one where social sharing is the norm. But too much sharing can be dangerous. Most people are respectful of your opinions or actions. But some are not. Some will use the information that you share to hurt you or to your disadvantage. Some will use your information to get revenge or “punish” you. That is a fact of life. Here are a few well known examples:
- Justine Sacco was fired hours after she sent a tweet about going to Africa and getting Ebola. She tweeted before the flight left London and was fired before she landed in Africa.
- Walter Palmer, the dentist who killed Cecil the lion in 2015, had his practice shut down and had to go into hiding after sharing a picture on social media.
- “Swatting” continues to be a massive problem with often completely innocent people being surprised by police in the middle of the night. Sometimes with disastrous consequences.
Every time you post or go online, you potentially provide your name and location. With that information, people can often find out all kinds of “private” information about you through public sources, including where you live, whether you own a home, your job, your salary, and other family and financial information.
So what can you do about it? Do we simply stop sharing private information? Do we pull a Unabomber and live in a cabin in the woods with no Internet? Well, those are options, but, as an alternative, I would suggest that we just be careful about what we share. You should know how the internet works and where your private information can “leak” out. You should know some of the the privacy protections that are available to you on the Internet. And, most importantly, you should share responsibly.
The purpose of this blog is to highlight how to share responsibly, to inform people about the privacy protections on the internet, and how to protect yourself from people that might want to hurt you. Is it possible to protect yourself absolutely? Probably not. If someone really wants to determine who you are, they most likely can. But realizing that we do live in a social world, there are things that you can do to minimize your sharing and protect yourself and your family.
If this is something you're interested in, I would encourage you to check back often or sign up for the RSS feed. I will be starting email newsletter shortly too. Most important, stay in touch. And let me know what issues interest you or questions you may have.