Etiquette 101: Maintaining Online Privacy

how-to-maintain-online-privacy

By Lyndsey Fought

In the age of oversharing, sometimes it’s hard to maintain a shroud of privacy. Privacy is important for both your personal life and your professional life. While we’ve previously touched on the etiquette of Facebook, how to keep social media from impacting your career, and online decorum, how can we maintain privacy online?

There are ways to properly preserve your privacy and not allow others to break that fence. Some of these items may seem extreme, but in the event you’re being harassed, stalked, or abused, extreme measures are called for. Even if you are not, employing some of these any way will make your life more secure and you won’t have to worry as much!

Preventative measures

  • Lock the sites you’re on socially. On Facebook there are several privacy settings, browse them and decide who you are okay with viewing the statuses/pictures you post. Sadly, on Facebook there is not an option to keep random strangers from messaging you; even on the tightest message setting, mail from strangers will go to your “other inbox”. On Twitter everyone can see your tweets; either switch your account to locked or only post things you’re fine with everyone in the world seeing. On all social sites you are on, check the privacy settings every time they do an update.
  • View all of your profiles as a random person. The easiest way to do this is by using an Incognito window in Google Chrome. Tweak your settings again based on what you see.
  • Google yourself or old screen names. If there are any forgotten profiles or accounts go and delete them.
  • Do not overshare. Of course you can share what you feel comfortable with sharing, but does anyone need to know you’ve spent the day in the bathroom and why? The answer is no. Step back. Know that oversharing can lead to issues at work and in your personal life.

What to do if you’re being bothered

  • Utilize block buttons. Just like in real life, you don’t not need to be harassed by people you do not want to interact with. If these people continue to make new profiles and try to interfere with you, report them, report them everywhere, and if you do not get a response from the site and the harassment increases contact the police. Sadly, there isn’t much online protection from bullying and harassment yet, but we hope it’s coming soon. For now, we just have to do what we can to make people aware of those harassing.
  • Don’t make yourself available all the time. You don’t need to be available for chatting or answering messages constantly. Have a window when you answer people, don’t let people take advantage of your time. (This is especially true for people who guilt you into contacting them, just because the internet is on all the time doesn’t mean you have to be.)
  • Let friends and family members know that you don’t want to be tagged in certain things. This is your life, if you don’t want people to know where you are 24/7 that’s your business and no one should make you feel weird about it! Others may be fine with oversharing but it’s okay if you don’t want to, as well.
  • Create boundaries. This is for real life too: If a friend or family member is sharing information about you with others, you need to make them aware it’s not acceptable. If they continue then you know they don’t respect your privacy and your sharing with THEM needs to be minimized.  Sharing information (in a negative way) is NEVER justifiable and should be called out.

Rules for general online activity

  • Use a browser plugin called DoNotTrackMe; it keeps sites like Google and Facebook from tracking your browsed sites and sending companies information about you (to make money off of you). Also, delete cookies regularly and log out of sites when you aren’t using them actively.
  • Use a firewall and a secure wifi connection, this will protect inbound and outbound connections.
  • Use a more secure search engine (like startpage.com), social network site (like Pidder), and email service (like hushmail).
  • As a more serious security measure, you can set up a proxy server to browse the internet.
  • Lastly, install AdBlock to have a faster browsing experience and you won’t have to see annoying ads!

By employing these techniques hopefully your online experience will be vastly improved and you can have peace of mind! Any online privacy tips you’d like to share? Happy browsing!

About Lyndsey:

I have too many interests and I get easily distracted, so I haven’t completed a single thing in my life. Yay, hyperboles! I have been to culinary school and I like baking cupcakes. I write the beginnings of too many novels. I am driven by ambition and delayed by perfectionism.

I would like to travel the world, learn from others, write some best sellers, and have a restaurant or bakery someday. I am a Slytherin. I like the tenth Doctor best (followed by ninth). I am too obsessed with Downton Abbey and the whole etiquette of that era. I never forget to be awesome!

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