50% of Internet Users are Worried about Online Privacy

9 Oct

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Americans share more about themselves online than ever before but this doesn’t mean we’re not concerned about the side effects. A recent study by Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that “privacy concerns among Americans are on the rise, with 50 percent of Internet users saying they are worried about the information available about them online.”

We fret about advertisers accessing our personal habits. We fear being watched by the government. We’re targeted by hackers. We struggle to secure personal safety and home security. Our online activity can compromise all of this if we’re not proactively taking steps to manage and mitigate risk.

The good news is that it’s possible (and not that hard) to proactively manage your privacy while comfortably networking and sharing with those you choose to engage with.

Not all social media is created equal.

Review how you use social media currently between different platforms and identify the purpose for each. Consider, for example, that you have profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter (It’s the most likely combo as the top 3 most popular networking sites).

Facebook is most likely going to be one’s personal network. Users tend to only connect with people that they already know like friends and family. Make deliberate choices about what you share but never assume what you post will ever stay private. It’s easy enough to take a screen shot of the most private status update. Pro tip: use Facebook’s smart list feature to group your friends and target each post you publish to a smart list to manage who sees your content.

Twitter is growing as a place for public information. Users follow and engage with news, celebrities, popular interests, and friends. Frequency of engagement is high and it’s not uncommon for users to follow and engage with people they’ve never met and will never meet. Twitter is best used with a public account so consider how everyone will perceive what you say and share. You can still be funny yet professional and you can still be professional and personal. Pro tip: you don’t have to tweet to find use from Twitter. Feel free to follow, search, and learn from what people are saying without the pressure to share your own thoughts.

LinkedIn isn’t just a job-searching platform – in fact, it’s far from it. Most users use LinkedIn for business development and professional networking to further expand personal business opportunities. At the very least, create a profile and complete your profile. Pro tip: sharing status updates and engaging on others’ status will help you expand and grow your network faster and stronger.

Understand Privacy Policies. 

As online engagement grows and the way we use social media platforms evolve, naturally the privacy policies and options will evolve with them. It’s your responsibility to understand your options and limitations on each channel.

Despite criticism you may sometimes read, Facebook makes it easy to manage your privacy. In a related point, one cannot protect personal data by posting a status update. Any variation of “I hereby prevent Facebook from using my photos” is completely fake and useless.

Twitter’s privacy management is probably the clearest of the three platforms highlighted here. You’re public or you’re private. All or nothing.

Managing your privacy on LinkedIn can be somewhat more challenging but it is the more likely platform that you may use to represent yourself publicly.

What is the best privacy management tip you’ve got for engaging across the platforms?

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