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Protect your safety and privacy on the internet

Updated on May 13, 2014

How private is your information?

to get a good idea of your privacy on the internet, perform a Google/Yahoo/Bing search on yourself. You might be shocked of the outcome. There is a big chance that you have placed the information there yourself, either knowingly or not knowingly. There are so many things we do on the internet nowadays that it is easy that our information is somewhere to be found.

An overload of junk mail? This is why!

The use of Social media (Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn, Twitter,etc.), signing up for newsletters, online shopping require you to register and giving your personal information. This information is often sent (with or without your consent) to other companies that use your email/phone number for advertising purposes. This is the reason that you receive so many junk mail and spam or phonecalls from telemarketeers. The same thing is when you enter an online contest, you often give your email address which they can use to contact you if you have won. What you do not know is that they sell (yes, they gain money from that too) all the email addresses they collect to all kinds of advertising companies. Often this is the way they payfor the prizes you can win for the contests (if they are even real, that is). You should therefore always be careful what you sign up for and who you give your email address to.

Junk mail requires its own email address

When you are registered (or planning to) to multiple Social Media activities, newsletters. Chances are you will receive heaps of junk mail that you did not register for. This is also the type of email you don’t want to receive between your personal and important emails. For this reason it is very wise to create separate email addresses. Create an email address with as little information as possible (or information that cannot be linked to you in any way) and use this email to sign up for newsletters and register for all kinds of online contests or Social Media. If wished you could check this email once in a while to see whether something interesting is there (probably not though). The email address you use for important and personal email should only be used for friends andfamily and those contacts you find important. Make sure it is not linked to any Social media activities.

Social media and keeping things un-public

Even though Social Media is a great way to stay in touch with friends, family and also the rest of the world, you would not want everyone to know private details about yourself. For example: if you post a message on Facebook, not only friends will read it but also their friends, and even friends of their friends. This is how eventually messages go viral. To make sure that your messages are only seen by those that you want to see them, you have to properly set up your privacy settings. Every Social media type has ways to change the privacy settings so you can decide who sees what items. It may take a while to get this all set up, but in the end it will help you a lot. For a twitter account you can for example set up your privacy settings so that every follower will have to get your permission before he/she can read your tweets.

Before sending your posts/tweets/messages

Most people will post messages without even thinking, just to say something funny, or because you simply think it is important. However, you would not be the first to regret posting message as soon as you have placed it. To avoid embarrassing post or (too) personal details going public (especially with your privacy settings not activated), take the following into consideration:

  • Would you say the same in a public area where everyone could hear you? If no, then you should probably not put it in writing either.
  • What do you expect to accomplish with the post/message/tweet?
  • What image are you trying to establish create?
  • What is funny to you might not be as funny to another person.
  • You message will be read by many people with different opinions and beliefs and they might be different from yours. Comments on your messages/posts may therefore not what you expect.

Surfing on the web – can you trust any website?

Before signing up for a service that a website offers (contest/newsletter/shopping, etc.), it is wise to check the trustworthiness of a website. You can never be a 100% sure, but avoiding the bad sites is quite easy taking into account the following:

  • Does the website give you clear contact information when you have a question or complaint? Do they provide an address, email address or phone number?
  • Does the website give you a professional feeling to it? In other words, does the page have a clear structure, with text and images balanced and is the content well-written? Some website purely exist for advertising purposes and have more advertising on them than text. The trustworthiness could then be doubtful.
  • When a website has content with many spelling mistakes, it is doubtful that the website is a professional one.
  • Is the website updated frequently? The older the date on the site (often below in the webpage), chances are the owner has not updated and done anything with their site.

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