Protecting Your Virtual Life

My niece recently posted questionable information on the internet that appeared on my Facebook page because we were friends; after reading the content I immediately and secretly “un-friended” her.  I did not want the information in her post to appear on my page with readers assuming I approved of her conduct.  Maybe I am becoming prudish in my middle age, but I believe there are too many posts that simply provide too much information and photographs that belong only in a private photo album rather than on the eternal library of the internet.

That being said, having a virtual life connects us to others in ways that can be beneficial, preserves relationships and be time efficient. While I would never think of making a phone call to a friend at 10 o’clock at night, I might send an email letting them know I am thinking about them that I know they will receive the next morning.  Networking sites like LinkedIn are great for connecting with business colleagues and keeping track of the whereabouts of colleagues.  Facebook is a great vehicle for tracking down long lost grade school, high school and college buddies.

The internet opens up a world of social contact for individuals who spend a great deal of time at home.   The internet also provides significant amounts of education and information previously only accessed in encyclopedia at the library.  This website is one example.  Am I dating myself?  Does anyone besides me remember using encyclopedias for research?

Let us also not forget that information we post is also used by potential employers, internet predators and thieves who might find it very interesting that you are posting vacation photos on Facebook.  Might you NOT be home?  What a great way to let burglars know that NOW is the perfect time to break into your home.

Recently several online email provider accounts were hacked.  How many of you have received emails from friends through Yahoo that you eventually realized were SPAM sent from some annoying hacker in Russia or Australia.  It can be challenging to know which emails to open and which emails to delete.  My advice, change your passwords often and do not make them easy to decipher.  Use capital and lower case letters, number and symbols that are at least 8-10 characters. Do not use the name of your spouse, your children or your pets especially if you have shared this information elsewhere on the internet. Protect your virtual life as you do your physical life and keep private information private.

Then there are the items we collect and purchase online. What about I-tunes, downloaded books, online games and family photo albums.  What happens to these when we die if we do not leave a list of passwords accessible somewhere like in a safety deposit box?  Imagine how many personal online accounts exist of persons now deceased.  This is an issue for online companies and lawyers to eventually settle.  However in the meantime give thought to the idea that if something happened to you, who would protect your virtual life and everything that goes along with computer access and the internet?

© 2012, 2013 Pamela D. Wilson.  All Rights Reserved.

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