I'm all for online privacy. Sure, the world knows all about my techie habits, interests and reviews, but when it comes to posting things for the whole web to see, I like to think I keep it appropriate. In fact, I make it a personal policy to only post content I wouldn't mind my boss, parents or ex seeing online. That being said, this "Think Before You Post" ad pushing online privacy and the dangers of letting it all hang out on the internet rubs me the wrong way.
It features an innocent-looking teen wandering through a mall and getting a barrage of suggestive questions and comments from awkward older men. "Love the new tattoo Sarah," says a creepy coach (who by the way would probably get fired for saying that); "What color underwear today" from an emo ticket guy (who would certainly get canned for saying that), and "Hey Sarah, when you gonna post something new?" from a stranger. Unless this little Sarah has gone the way of old school Jenna Jameson, I see this scare-tactic video as pretty serious web privacy propaganda. When do young women get recognized in public for posting something on an online profile? Stalked by an acquaintance maybe, but comments from complete strangers?
Yes, Sarah probably shouldn't post images or content that could later get her in trouble online, but recent studies show youth are far more aware of the dangers of the web than the media hypes them up to be. In fact, according to recent studies, teens often share their first names and photos on their personal online profiles, but most keep their full names under wraps and generally keep their profiles private.
I must admit, the aim of the Cyber Tipline, who sponsored this ad, is a positive one, I just think the message of this video went a bit overboard. The organization does have some great tips about what to post online, and what to worry about. Here's more:
- Ask yourself if you would be embarrassed if your friends or family saw the pictures or video you post online. If the answer is yes, then you need to stop.
- Be aware of what is in the camera's field of vision and remember to turn the camera off when it is not in use.
- Be careful about posting identity-revealing or sexually provocative photos.
What to report
- Anyone you don't know who asks you for personal information, photos or videos.
- Unsolicited obscene material from people or companies you don't know.
- Misleading URLs on the Internet that point you to sites containing harmful materials rather than what you were looking for.
- Anyone who wants to send you photos or videos containing obscene content of individuals 18 and younger. (The possession, manufacturing, or distributing of child pornography is illegal.)