Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Protecting Your Privacy in the Digital Age

If you’re reading this post, it means that the digital world didn’t implode after “Quit Facebook Day yesterday (5/31/10). For those of you who may not have heard, Facebook recently revealed some changes to their service that would make the web more “social.” This could include sharing all of your personal information out on the open web. To Facebook’s credit, they give users full control over their privacy settings. However, in a more “social web,” Facebook would rather that you share your information.

As of right now, Facebook requires that you opt-out of sharing your personal information rather than opting-in. I’m sure that some of you reading this may not be aware that you can (and should) change your privacy settings and Facebook prefers it that way. Today I want to take just a couple of minutes to discuss how you can protect your privacy in today’s digital age.

1) Change Your Facebook Privacy Settings
The Guardian has a great article about how to adjust your Facebook privacy settings so that you’re comfortable with the information that you’re sharing. You read the post here.

2) Google Yourself
If you haven’t done this, I highly suggest that you give it a shot. If you haven’t done it recently, I also suggest that you give it another shot. Spend some time to see out what information is floating around the “social web.” New content is added daily, so make sure that you do a thorough scan frequently

3) Setup Google Alerts
After you’ve done your initial Google research, setup some automatic alerts on Google. With automatic alerts, Google will send you updates when new content gets published that contains your alert keywords. Start with your name, then considering adding your company or your brand (or even your competition) to your alert queue. One important note: make sure that you include quotation marks if your keyword is more than word. If your keyword is JIM JOHNSON, Google will update whenever JIM and JOHANNSON shows up in anywhere in the content and the kewords don’t have to be anywhere near each other. There are a lot of Jim’s in the world, so your inbox will be flooded. Instead, setup your keyword as “JIM JOHNSON” and you’ll only get results where the two keywords show up next to each other.

4) Post with Caution!
You may think that you have the greatest Facebook friends, Twitter followers or Foursquare friends, but be careful what you tell them. Often times, people are too forthcoming with their status updates. They’ll tell you what they ate for breakfast or when they going grocery shopping. A group got together to help raise awareness about posting too much information. PleaseRobMe.com  aggregates posts when people state that their out to dinner or away from home, giving site visitors opportunities to rob those people’s homes. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek, but it proves a point. Post with Caution!

With these suggestions you can help protect your privacy and your personal brand. There are additional ways to help keep yourself secure, so how do you protect your personal privacy? What have you found as you’ve done your research? Have you heard any horror stories? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Philip Wocken is the Director of emerging media at d.trio marketing group, a Minneapolis-based marketing agency. He can be reached on Twitter (@pwocken) or at pwocken@dtrio.com.

A Special Thank You from the MN AMA Blog Manager, Thusuong Hiel:
For those who have been reading Philip's posts regularly, this will be his last post as our MN AMA Staff Blogger.  In this last year he has contributed to our Blogspot with clever postings and delightful insights to the world of social media.  He has been a wonderful team member and a valuable blogger.  Speaking on behalf of the MN AMA Blog team, we will certainly  miss him.  Please join me in wishing Philip well as he pursues his future endeavors.
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