Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr have blurred the lines between what is public and what is private. It is the law that employers cannot judge based off of race, creed, or color. There is no law that says they can choose not to hire you based on a poorly chosen photo on your Facebook page. Yet.
Ten years ago “cyber-bullying” and “sex-ting” didn’t exist. These days a minor can charged with possession and distribution of child pornography for having inappropriate pictures on their phones. Morally a minor should not be sharing inappropriate photos, but is it fair to make them a registered sex offender? Laws are based on social morals and customs. In most of America prostitution is illegal because our country finds it immoral but in other countries it is still widely accepted. Passing laws directly coincide with social outcry. So where does that leave new laws to govern technology today? Cases where social media is at play are being closely watched as the future of law. But the laws are slow to catch up. When new laws take anywhere from a few weeks to never to get passed, how can you arm yourself?
Here are some tips for safe online socializing:
• Treat all posts and pictures as if a future or current employer was watching, because they are
• If you are out with a crowd, be sure you put your drink out of range in a group photo
• Set photo tagging permissions so that you have to approve a photo before it shows on your wall
• Protect your identity by leaving some information off your profile
• Check your online reputation by occasionally using Google
• Publish only positive and informational writings
• Consider separate personal and professional profiles
• If you wouldn’t put it on a post card don’t post it online!
How to keep kids safer:
• Educate them on the dangers of sharing photos with friends
• Ask that if the set up a Facebook account, you be a friend
• Use a monitoring system with younger children
• Educate them on the dangers of online predators
• Teach them online manners, i.e. CAPS IS YELLING
• Game chat rooms are nearly unavoidable with teens, teach them to use good judgment
The bottom line, always act like Grandma can see what you are doing online. If she won’t like it then keep it to yourself. It was almost 300 years after the invention of the printing press that copyright laws were finally passed. The laws are slow to catch up, but you don’t have to be.