Whether it’s a chat group, forum, or even an email, take caution when giving out personal information or expressing your opinion about someone or something online.
Internet information is growing larger and more impossible to control every day. It’s not uncommon for people to lose their jobs because of what they wrote about their boss or their company, not realizing that it would remain as a permanent online record for the entire world.
One 22-year-old answered an Internet inquiry about whether anyone had ever had a bad drug trip. His reply was so interesting and colorful that years later it still ranks number seven out of a total of 92,600 Google hits that come up when you type in his name!
That’s why you should be careful what you post online. Your boss or your future boss and head hunters can research your name online and pull up more information than you want them to have. They can also do continuous background checks on you, no disclosure required.
They not only can see what you’ve posted, they might be able to see your age, marital status, the value of your house, things you wrote as a teenager, liens, bankruptcies, and political affiliations.
Without the full story, a post or a question could be misinterpreted. For example, let’s suppose you are doing research for a friend or relative with a drug problem. If you post a question asking how to help someone beat a drug habit, others may assume the person with the habit is you.
To protect yourself, Business Week magazine gave the following recommendations:
- Register with an online profile manager such as Ziggs or LinkedIn. They’re free.
- If you must use MySpace, refrain from posting the risqué. Consider cloaking or using an avatar.
- Order a background check from Zabasearch or Argali. Contact vendors if you find incorrect information.
- Think before you blog. Anything personal that you post may come back to haunt you for years in the future.
- Don’t send anything in an e-mail you would not want the world, and especially your mother, to read
As always, use common sense with the Internet. It is a very public place with a very long memory. It is fair to assume, Google never forgets anything.