Nearly everyone at a university uses social media: Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Vine, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn and many other apps and websites. It’s important that you learn how to protect your online reputation.
You know about using social media apps to interact and have fun with friends and family, but what’s funny today can remain online to embarrass you years from now. Even if you delete a post, it could remain in an online archive, or someone (including one of your friends) may have saved a copy and could repost it.
Don’t post things that could hurt your reputation when you make the transition from using social media for fun to using it professionally. Future employers, professional schools, graduate programs, and other organizations routinely scan social media for information about you. Don’t let something you posted during your freshman year hurt your professional future.
If you don’t want your friends, family, school, or employer to know something, don’t post it. Even if you think it’s fun to share lots of information about yourself, think about how that information could put you or your future in jeopardy. Be careful about sharing too much personal information about yourself (e.g., physical address, complete birthdate, etc.) in your profile or posts.
Although most social media offer some privacy controls, those settings do not grant you total control of your information. Ask your friends to be considerate of your reputation—being tagged in a compromising photo can be just as damaging to your reputation as if you had posted that photo yourself. You should assume that any information you post—or any posted about you—will be public.
Remember that social media interactions are real and personal. The friends you talk about online are the same friends you see in the dining hall or on your way to class. What you do or say in social media affects real people, just as what your friends say online can affect you. Think about the impact of what you post or share, including how public it is.
The online reputation management (ORM) firm FixYourSearchResults.com offers up these tips for protecting your reputation:
- Respect your—and their—privacy. Don’t share personal information or post things that might harm your, or other people’s, reputation or privacy.
- Your Facebook status isn’t worth your social status. What you post or share now could seriously affect how your friends, family, and even future employers see you. Think carefully about whether your post sends the message you want the world to hear.
- It’s only forever. Once you share something on the internet, it can be copied and reshared beyond your control. You might be able to delete your own post, but you can’t make other people forget about it, and you can’t control copies, screenshots, and reshares that other people made.
- Manage your settings. Social media, and even commercial, accounts have privacy settings that let you control who can see your information and posts and how they can interact with you. These settings don’t provide absolute control over how your content is shared with the world, but they’re a good start.
If your are a student at a university, you’re responsible for protecting yourself, your information, and your devices as well as the university’s IT resources as you use them. Here are several pointers to always keep in mind when using college IT services.
- Use IT resources appropriately
- Take responsibility for your device’s activity
- Protect and clean your computer
- Use strong and unique passwords
- Protect yourself from phishing and other fraud
- Understand copyright laws and file sharing
- Protect your online reputation
- Understand the consequences for violating the rules
You can also refer to these ORM resources for more information.