As soon as the press learned the name of the prostitute associated with Eliot Spitzer, pictures from her MySpace and Facebook accounts were splashed across the web. Do you ever worry about how much personal information there is about you on the internet?
I've thought about this quite a bit.
- If its on the 'Net, then it will be used. Fairly or unfairly, the information about us represents us. Some people will construe even the most innocent of statements to mean something negative.
Once I got a call from the sister of a user who wished for me to shut down the user's web site. The user was a teacher arrested for sexual harassment of students. Some blogger had taken innocent comments and construed them to mean something negative. Former co-workers who described doing things on blogs have on occasion had such information used in a very negative way. I've also seen former coworkers get obscene comments from "dirty old men" over bikini or otherwise revealing pictures.
- Be socially conscious. An over-reaction is to post nothing at all on the Internet. Some people's rule of thumb for printed or written stuff is not to write anything down which one would be embarrassed to show one's grandmother. One approach is to use the same rule of thumb for what one puts on the Internet. Another approach is to consider anything put online from the perspective of marketing to the masses. Not sure either is really the best approach. I do think consideration ought to be made before writing or sending anything.
- Digital = easy to copy. This is what scares the RIAA and MPAA. It should make all of us worried about exposure of anything negative. Don't assume because some sort of access control is there that you are safe. Anyone who has access to something can copy it and send it to others. A negative email, IM, picture, etc. can easily be sent to any numbers of people.
- Once provided to others, out of your control. As soon as you send something to someone else, they can and will do whatever they wish with that file. They can send it to others. This means they can mistakenly or intentionally send it to those who would use it to do harm.
Personally, there is a ton of information on the Internet about me. When I first started working where I do now, a coworker asked about a couple posts I had made making fun of Linux as being anti-Linux. We had a short involved disagreement about it.