Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Can being open be a danger?

I was just reading a blog post about the convergence of blog software and social networking at ReadWriteWeb and, while I like the idea, am concerned about the personal security ramifications.

I know that we are all nice people who wouldn't take advantage of the fact that I can quickly and easily find where you live, can see when you are away from home, I have your telephone or cell number and can call you the check that you are away from home (or at home, depending on my motivation) but there are people on the internet who are not as nice as you or I.

I understand that, when it comes to doing business online, you want to know that I am a real person with a real address and a real telephone number to call. I have reservations about giving all that information 100% correctly so what I usually do is give a slightly generic address. It's still accurate but won't allow anyone to just arrive unexpectedly.

There are other issues quite apart from personal security.

What about the careless, thoughtless or inappropriate post? We all say and do stupid things sometimes. We are all blond for 5 minutes each day, don't exceed your limit (with apoligies to the blonds). With the internet any stupid mistake can live forever. This can come back to haunt you when, in a job interview, your prospective new employer asks about your thoughts on green house gasses or other ethnic groups?

Perhaps you had a bad day at work and you posted some comment about the boss doing something dumb, dodgy or illegal? Or you happen to mention that you think a fellow employee is cute, stupid, thick, good in bed. How's your job going to last and how do you think you'll get another?

The risks are huge, there is nothing private on the internet. Always post as if you are in a huge room with 30 million other people, some of whome are listening and reading but you don't know which ones.

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