Think before you post something

Gracie Gonzalez, Multimedia News

If there’s a computer in your home or a cell phone in your backpack, you’ve probably been at the receiving end of a parent or teacher-oriented discussion about online safety.  Of course,  you’re not supposed to post your name on every website you visit, and you’re never supposed to deal out your address or phone number.  But something you might not be so educated on is why it could be dangerous to post certain photos or text posts online.

Everyone with a Facebook or a Twitter has probably been told not to publish anything offensive or suggestive.  For obvious reasons, this is a bad idea.  Besides the important and well-known fact that sex offenders can use posts to track down and physically harm you, colleges and employers do, in fact, search online profiles for social inconsistencies.  Is posting a demeaning or provocative status that you think might get a few “likes” worth being rejected from your dream school?

On a more serious note, sending suggestive photos through the Internet could even be enough to send someone to jail for child pornography.  Even if you think websites like Twitter and Facebook are private and safe, there are certainly quite a few holes in the system.

Earlier this year, researchers at VeriSign’s iDefense group discovered a hacker was selling Facebook user names and passwords. According to the group, “It was estimated he had about 1.5 million accounts – and was selling them for between $25 and $45.”

A different group of researchers also figured out that for a few years, it was possible for third parties to read private chats between friends.  Since this was discovered, it has been patched; but can you imagine what damage might be done if you had said something mean through an online forum?

Photos posted online can also be used by anyone because the Internet is a PUBLIC domain.  Any person in the world can save your photo to their computer.  There are even a few examples of private photos being used by major corporations without asking the photographer’s permission.  In one story, Virgin Mobile gained access to a photo of a young girl making a peace sign through a social networking website. The American girl was never contacted when her photo was used in an advertisement in Australia.

Be careful what you post online.  It will follow you. Setting up an online profile, or even a few online profiles, is basically equivalent to setting up a new life online. Of course, you should try not to use the Internet as an outlet for a new life.  Instead, you should use the internet to connect with friends and be yourself. What you would not say or do in public, you should not say or do online. Think before you post something.