College is when we make some of the most important connections in our lives–and also when we make some of our dumbest mistakes. Thanks to the internet, and sites like facebook, these moments are now immortalized for the world (and your future employers) to see.
Control Who Can See Your Profile:
Many sites (Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to name a few) give you the option to make your profile private, or at least limit the amount of information that people who aren’t friends with you can see. This can be extremely useful in taking control of your online identity. When doing this, carefully consider what you are using the website for. If you use Facebook as a way to communicate with your friends and family, there probably isn’t a reason for you to keep your profile public. However, if you’re using a twitter account to promote a blog you’re writing, you want to make those accounts as public as possible.
Facebook offers several awesome features in this regard. Perhaps the most useful is that you can preview your profile as it will be seen by others on Facebook. You can also customize how different groups of people see your profile. For example, I have my profile set so that any adults who I add cannot see my tagged pictures (because God knows what incriminating pictures my friends took when I wasn’t looking). You can also make it so you can’t be checked into locations without your approval. Of course, you may not care about these sorts of issues, but its a good idea to go through the “Privacy” tab on Facebook, and see what sorts of settings you currently have.
Control Who Accesses Your Data:
Facebook and many other sites offer you the ability to link your accounts to another website. They offer this as an alternative or a substitute for creating an account with their services, which may seem like a pretty sweet deal. If you actually take a look at what they can do when you “connect with Facebook”, you may reconsider. Most of them require you to allow them to post on your wall, give them access to your data, and give them access to the data of your friends.
This works well for companies who want to collect information to advertise things to you, but it means that you’re getting exploited. Take for example, the apps that have access to your Facebook. You can go under your privacy settings, you can see all the applications you’ve given permission to use your data (and sometimes the data of your friends) on Facebook. If any of these applications leaving you scratching your head and asking, “What the hell is that?”, it may be time to re-evaluate your privacy settings.
Be Conscious Of What You’re Posting (Or What Others Are Posting On Your Behalf):
I don’t mean that you should censor yourself. Free speech is awesome, and you should exercise that freedom as often as you can. This does mean that your mother, aunt, and boss probably don’t need to see the pictures of you from that house party you went to last Friday. It also may be a mistake to post about how much you hate your job if you’re friends with your boss or co-workers. Keep in mind who your audience is, and what you’re saying to or about them.
Don’t Be Dumb:
I feel like is this good advice for pretty much anything you do on the internet. When I was young, the adults in my life ominously warned me again and again about talking to strangers online. “Never tell anyone your name, or where you live!” Fortunately, I didn’t follow their advice, and now I get to write for a sweet online resource for other college kids.
That being said, don’t do stupid things. Don’t meet random people from the internet in a back alley at midnight without telling anyone. Don’t give out your password to everyone who asks. And for God’s sake, stop posting pictures of you making the duckface. No one wants to see that.