With over 75 million blogs, and millions more created each month, in this day and age, everyone is blogging. Be it an informational blog such as this one, or a personal blog written for a smaller audience, blogs are becoming a wide spread medium for personal expression. It gives the average person the power to have their voice heard, and make a difference. I would like to quote from Spiderman,
“With great power comes great responsibility”
With schools and employers becoming more aware of blogs and the internet, it is easier than ever to get in trouble for your internet presence. The three major sources of trouble are email/IM, facebook and other profiles, and your personal blog. Whether you are an internet-active student who wants to keep a clean record, or a blogging employee who doesn’t want his blog to jeopardize his career, read these tips to help you stay away from trouble.
1. Read your school or company’s email and blog policies. They will likely include what you are allowed to include in your emails or blogs, and what you are not allowed to. There is no “freedom of the press” here, as releasing company information or secrets is something that is forbidden, and you probably signed that when you were hired. Emails at many companies are scanned and archived, and can be held against you as evidence. If you leak confidential information via email or your personal blog, prepare for the consequences.
2. Regarding Facebook, other profile services, and incriminating photos. Facebook is becoming a big privacy issue among teenagers, because students at various schools are being served disciplinary action after posting photos to their profiles of a sexual nature, doing drugs in school uniform, or any other inappropriate behavior that can be linked to the school. A good rule to remember is that if you don’t want your mom, your principal or your boss to see it, then don’t post it!
3. Do not blog at work or send sensitive emails through the company email system. Your mail and net activity could and will be logged, so count on other people reading what you write. Anything remotely sensitive, mischievous or not, should be sent via personal email from your personal computer.
4. If you must use email, encrypt your sessions! If you are a gmail user, you are in luck! You may notice that when you log into gmail you see https:// in the address bar as you log in. This encrypts your login with SSL, which helps prevent hackers and viruses from collecting your passwords, etc. You can choose to remain in SSL-encrypted mode the entire time by logging in from https://mail.google.com
5. Encrypt everything else. There are some nifty Greasemonkey scripts for browsing encryption, as well as add-ons for most popular mail clients that help protect your mail from prying eyes. You can also install an encryption add-on for the instant messaging client Pidgin.
6. Don’t blog about your work in the first place! Unless you have a really interesting and unique job that everyone wants to read about, find a better topic for your blog. You would grow a big audience talking about day after boring day at the office. Ironically, the most “interesting” blogs about people’s jobs are also the riskiest to maintain, often containing leaked or released confidential information.
7. Assume that everything you write or post could be read or seen by everyone! When sending someone an email or posting something via facebook, assume that any and all of the “wrong people” will see what you post. That means no posting bad pictures for the world to see on your facebook. It also means do not send breakup notes or anything else that may make the other person angry via email. They may just print it out and pass it around to get revenge.
Luckily, Gearfire is an informational blog, so we don’t have to worry about most of this. Pheeew!