So, just a quick time out from my usual techie posts to ramble for a bit. The Internet has gotten huge these days and once the information is out there it’s almost impossible to put the horses back in the barn. Case in point and what people are talking about right now is the verdict that just came down in the Steubenville, Ohio rape case.
Judge Thomas Lipps issued a cautionary note to children and parents, urging them to reconsider “how you record things on the social media so prevalent today.”
In today’s world where twitter feeds are archived by third parties and people who know people post their own messages of support, no matter how well intentioned, things will never be kept secret and this girl now has to live with the repercussions of what happened to her, no chance to put it behind her, unlikely that she can keep any sort of privacy.
In my own life, I really try to keep my Internet persona and my real name as separate as possible. People who know me or that I want to reach out to know my alter ego, but hopefully a random google search of my name or a couple of key facts about me don’t lead to a huge Internet trail of photos, tweets, and posting made two or three years in the past (personally, I’ve found a couple of my old posts from 15 years ago still out there).
So back to Steubenville. I read an article in the news, and quite frankly was a bit skeptical. So as I sat there on my tablet, I did a quick google search. That popped up a little more info, which then led to a little more. Long story short, within the space of about 10 minutes I knew real names, friends, random posts showed up two or three years old, even pictures of the victim from happier times. I was stunned at how much was out there. Even with all her online accounts closed, the wealth of information that is indelibly marked out there is heart breaking. Bad things happen to good people and sometimes being paranoid about protecting your name isn’t just being paranoid. Taking these lessons to heart, rules for my kids using social media:
- Never use your real name as your twitter handle
- Never use your real name on Facebook
- If you post or blog about your friends or family, use first names or code names only (one friend posts about her daughter as PT…. Pink Tornado)
- No “Internet only” friends, you should have already met people that you friend online
- If people tag you in photos with your real name, ask them to retag you with your more anonymous Internet handle. People who know you will still enjoy the pic, but random strangers won’t
- Be paranoid, always.
In today’s connected world where posts, pics and even thanks to apps like foursquare, your location can easily be tracked, I think the it takes the whole “stranger-danger” lessons from when I was a kid to a whole new level for the next generation.