Protecting your identity online

INF506, OLJ, Module 6 question:
Based on your reading of three items, think about online identity in relation to both individuals and organisations:

  • what is important in terms of how we present and manage those identities online?
  • what can we share and what should we retain as private to the online world?

It has been quite interesting to read about protecting your identity, privacy and security whilst using social media. Something that really has stood out to me here is just how simple it often is to do so. Take privacy settings for example. They are rarely hard to find and typically very easy to alter. It is very important that we take the time to do this, in a way that best controls what we want to share, and how we wish to present our online identities.

However, I do wonder how much time people take in getting these settings as they really most want them? De Rosa, Cantrell, Havens, Hawk and Jenkins (2007) inform us that 35% of people want to remain anonymous on social media sites. We are also told that when opening a social media account 65% use their correct name, 80% use their correct email address and 81% their correct age (De Rosa, et al. 2007). If you’re going to provide such personal information, and you want to remain as anonymous as possible, then it’s obviously going to be important to correctly set your privacy settings.

Another relatively easy thing to do is to close off old accounts no longer being used. Atlas Communications (2007) reminds us that the less personal information you have online the better. This makes sense. It has also got me wondering how many online sites I’ve signed up for as a one-off and then completely forgotten about. So many sites require you to register even to undertake one transaction. You may never need to access that site again but your details remain there unless you go back and delete your account. How many of us actually remember, or care, to do this? I for one need to be much more vigilant in doing so.

LawAnswers (2015) points out that our mobile phones also typically store a lot of our personal information. Particularly if the phone remains logged in to our email and social media accounts.  They suggest a pin lock being put on your phone to help protect this information. It’s an obvious thing to do, and another example of how easy it can be to put basic measures in place to protect ourselves. I use one, but I know a few people who don’t. They see it as inconvenient. I do feel that such attitudes are more common than they ought to be.

Appropriately setting account privacy settings; closing off unused online accounts; better protecting our mobile phones. A few examples of the simple things we can all do to better protect our online information. Without the need to be an IT expert.

References:

Atlas Communications. (2007). How to manage your digital footprint: Don’t take chances when it comes to your online reputation. Retrieved from http://atlascommunications.ca/how-to-manage-your-digital-footprint/

De Rosa, C., Cantrell, J., Havens, A., Hawk, J. & Jenkins, L. (2007). Section 3: Privacy, Security and Trust. In Sharing privacy and trust in our networked world: A report to the OCLC membership. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC. [ebook]. Retrieved from http://www.oclc.org/reports/pdfs/sharing_part3.pdf

LawAnswers. (2015). Internet privacy laws Australia: 5 ways to better protect yourself online. Retrieved from https://www.lawanswers.com.au/blog/internet-privacy-laws-australia-5-ways-to-better-protect-yourself-online/

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