http://digitaltattoo.ubc.ca/ is a great website that educates people about the permanence and scope of their online lives. This site provides tutorials about how to change your privacy settings on certain social media sites and it gives advice and examples of how to limit what you post and what others can see online and why you would want to limit these things in the first place. This site was also helpful in confirming things I had heard from other people (such as it is safer to use a credit card than a debit card for online purchases) and it also helped debunk myths (such as not all cookies are bad). I already knew about monitoring and deleting browsing history from my dad, but it was nice to have the steps laid out as a reminder. I also really liked the way this site provided the information in a way that was easy for me to understand. It provided the sometimes scary info about the permanence of what you post in a calm, matter of fact manner. This site made me feel like I was in control of my online identity and it provided me with the necessary steps to make sure people only see what I want them to see. For fun, I tried some of the sites that Digital Tattoo recommends to search yourself online. Both spezify and personas were unable to find me, but I was a little creeped out when I searched my email on pipl.com and it immediately came up with my profile picture from facebook. I was slightly comforted to discover that when I clicked on the link to my facebook page, facebook told me that the content was not available because I may not have access to that page. I know that this is not foolproof and that computer hackers and companies have “backdoors” or ways of getting past notices like this to view my profile, but it made me feel a little better to know that my security settings work to some extent.
I have always been a little wary of online sites that require personal information and are open to the public. I had heard since middle school that anything you share online can be made public so I have always been careful about what I do, say, and post online. I resisted getting a facebook account for the longest time, but I finally broke down when I became part of a Scottish exchange program through my high school. I need a faster and cheaper way to communicate with my friends in Scotland than calling on the phone or writing letters. Even though I think about my online identity and the repercussions it could have for my future every time I go to post something online, it is still a little scary to see how much of your information is really owned by the company sites you visit. I have heard all of the horror stories of people whose careers were ruined because of embarrassing and unprofessional things that were found on their social media pages, even from when they were in high school and college. After reading this article (and before writing this post) I went through all of my privacy settings on facebook to make sure they are on the highest security possible. As dorky as it sounds, I always live my online life by the rule, if I can’t tell my mom about it, I don’t post it online.