Personal Information Online and Privacy Setting

Personal Information Online and Privacy Settings

Now that you have learned about the different risks of online use, here you can learn how to keep your information safe from online predators.

What are the dangers of uploading personal information online?

Just as you would never leave your house wide open to allow any stranger to enter at all times, you wouldn’t want online strangers to have free access to you as well. It may be easy to forget that the internet is not a private place, but keep in mind that every action you do online has the potential of being seen by other people. Any information you upload can make you vulnerable to other people exploiting this information for their personal gain. 

Key tips to remember:

  • Personal information should stay personal, especially online. Personal information can be any information that will allow a person online to learn private things about you and gain access to you. This includes your full name, your home address, who your family members are, where you go to school, what places you like to go to, what you enjoy doing, etc. If you upload personal information, make sure your privacy settings are set to allow only close friends to see it.
  • You should never upload anything online that you would not want the whole public to see. Even if you set your privacy settings to friends only, or send a video to one person in a private chat room, there is still a chance it can be used against you and distributed to others. If there is something you don’t feel comfortable with everyone seeing it, don’t upload it!
  • Keep your passwords strong and safe from others. Your password should never be shared with anyone, even friends. Your password allows you to keep the information you upload online, safe and in your control.
  • Make sure your geolocation is not exposed to public. Most internet devices can be tracked to identify their accurate location, which is called a geolocation. Some by default will be exposed with any post you upload, showing others where you are posting from. You can change your settings online to prevent this from being exposed to the public.
  • Keep notice of the different internet devices you use. Every internet device has different settings which you should be aware of. Your actions may be tracked and traced when using the internet through public devices such as computers in cybercafes, at school, or using the smartphone’s and computers of others. Be aware of the actions you do online while using internet devices which are not your own.

How can you keep your information safe?

After making sure you are not uploading anything that may put you at risk, you also want to keep the information that you do decide to upload, safe and secure and let it be exposed only to the people who are close to you. Depending on the different apps you use, there are different ways to set your privacy settings to keep your information safe.

With most social media and applications, you will find the privacy settings through a “help” or “settings” button. There will be different things you need to take care of:

  • Who can see your profile – your name, profile picture and general information about you
  • Who can see your actions online – what you upload and what you comment on or like
  • Who can see your friends or followers – all the people you are connected to online
  • Who can see your location – where you are physically located while using the internet
  • Who can tag you – who can connect you to posts, videos or pictures they upload
  • Who can send you friend requests or messages – who is able to reach out to you

It is generally recommended that all of the above will be restricted to friends only, and in some cases even set only to your own eyes. This will allow you to stay safe and prevent online predators from gaining access to you and your information. There are however cases where you would want to post things that everyone can see, such as if you are requesting general knowledge from the public or you think there is something important that the general public should be aware of and you want to share it. In these cases, you can change the setting for a specific post and allow for the public to see this post only. Don’t forget that public posts should never contain private information.