Friday, September 08, 2006

Nothing Is "Private" on the Internet

After some discussion regarding good "Internet Names," I decided to do some quick google searches on myself. Not the usual first & last name, but also email aliases, AIM names, etc. I quickly found that everything I've ever posted online is very available to anyone. This included Amazon reviews, comments on notable blogs, and profiles on websites (like Cork' or

I started to wonder whether or not this bothered me. For one, anyone (employers, friends, enemies) could dig up lots of information about what I think and say - and potentially use it against me. What does this mean? Here's a top-5 for controlling your own comments and "privacy":

  1. Act like whatever you say/post will be published on the front page of the New York Times. This is an old rule-of-thumb ethics test that really applies to online contributions. Be prepared to have anyone and everyone view what you say, without it embarrassing you.
  2. Don't post anything in anger. It's very difficult to retract angry comments you make in real life. Doing so online can be at least as difficult, and you don't want to post anything you regret.
  3. Don't post anything under the influence. For similar reasons as number (2), it's important to have a sober mindset while posting something online. There should be a "PUI" rule stating that you can't Post Under the Influence.
  4. Select a good Internet name. If everything you do online is categorized under an alias that cannot be associated with your real name, then it's hard to map online comments to your online self. It's important to make sure that these are never associated with your real name (i.e. a single page doesn't list your AIM as funnyboy365 right next to your real name, Gilbert Androssi).
  5. Use good language. Nothing's worse than having examples of your poor writing all over the Internet. It's embarrassing, so be proud of what you put out there!
Nothing is private, except stuff like Credit Card numbers & banking - I'm very glad that didn't come up on Google! If you say something - anything - you should mean it and be prepared to defend it. So add content at your own risk!

1 comment:

Rick said...

Good classic advice that applies even more now than ever - since the "half life" of on-line comments is so huge.