Did you know that anything you share online can easily reach the eyes of public, even if it is shared in a private setting? Or that once something is posted online, it is almost impossible to remove?
Keeping your friends updated with what you do is fun and a great way to keep your social circle alive. But the internet is not as private a place as it may feel. There are a few things you should think about before posting personal information or pictures online.
Online Sharing Rules:
Rule #1 –Think twice before you post online! If you think you would not feel comfortable with a photo that anyone can see, better not post it!
On the internet, doing something in private has a different meaning than in the offline world.
Let’s imagine you are in your room, and your friend is with you and you show them a picture of yourself. Other than the two of you, no one is in the room and you know that your friend is the only person who sees the picture.
Online however, things become different. If you send your friend a picture, even if it is in a private chat between the two of you, you cannot be sure that your friend will be the only one who sees it. The photo can easily be copied or sent to someone else and circulated on the web. Even if you erase the photo, someone else may already possess the photo, making your control over what happens to it lost.
Rule #2 – If it is personal information, keep it personal! And keep it offline.
Photos are not the only thing that pose risks. Any personal information which is shared online can be taken advantage of by the wrong people. There are people online who use the information they gather on children to exploit them. Personal information can be used to know a person’s interests and location and make it easier to gain access to them.
There are online offenders that take advantage of this situation and of children posting personal information, to learn more about them and gain their trust. They may pose as someone they are not in order to make you believe they are trustworthy and that you can be their friend. They can then use this access for personal and exploitative purposes.
This process is called grooming and is common among child sex offenders. Since online it is very easy for a person to conceal their identity, and information sharing between strangers is more common online than offline; child sex offenders find it an easy platform to groom children.
Rule #3 – Never contribute to a situation where someone else may be harmed! Your actions online can have an impact on others as well.
One more important lesson about sharing photos online is – it is not only your own personal photos you need to think of. Make sure you don’t pressure anyone else to share something they may not be comfortable with or they can negatively be affected by if someone else got their hands on it.
Furthermore, if you are exposed to a photo of someone else that you think sharing it may hurt the person in the photo, be responsible and don’t collaborate with its exposure. You might think it is a “cool” thing to share, or that it has no harm if it is only shared with one person. You might even be sharing it with good intentions trying to raise awareness of the negative impact of the photo. But once you press the share button, whether you mean to or not, you are contributing to a situation where another person is at risk of getting harmed.
If you see a photo circulated online of a child that can put them at harm – report it rather than share.