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Ad Campaign Addresses Online Privacy In A Creepy Way

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:


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Be careful about posting identity-revealing or sexually provocative photos.

What to report

  1. Anyone you don't know who asks you for personal information, photos or videos.
  2. Unsolicited obscene material from people or companies you don't know.
  3. Misleading URLs on the Internet that point you to sites containing harmful materials rather than what you were looking for.
  4. 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.)
Join The Conversation
RubyFrosting RubyFrosting 10 years
Check out a cooler way that the topic of online safety is being brought to life. is targeting teens to type wisely and you can order a ring that reminds you to be careful when online and be wary of predators and cyberbullies. It also features Hayden Panitierre from Heroes.
smarler smarler 10 years
Over the top, yes, but still a good ad. We assume that just because we intend our blogs and pages for our friends that they are the only people who read them, but that's not the truth. TheMissus makes a very true point also--many companies will Google potential hires to learn a little more about them.
XDeexDeeX XDeexDeeX 10 years
O.K I think this is a very good message. But I don't know why someone would just say "Love the new tatoo Sarah." Or "What color underwear today Sarah?" It is a little overtop but it does show a good message. But I don't know how EVERYBODY would know her honestly.
gossipqueen gossipqueen 10 years
I don't think is over the top and it applies to real life as well as cyberlife Who hasn't had a cyberstalker? or a creepy guy asking creepy questions???
TheMissus TheMissus 10 years
you should definitely think twice about what you post online. I know that the first thing I do when looking at a potential new hire for the company I work at is Google them. A few years ago the company I was working at had an employee who had a blog where they wrote anti-semetic and racist remarks. The guy had his pictures on the blog too... But not his last name. I think the ad actually sends a good message. And I think it being "over the top" is a good thing. You'd be surprised how easy it can in fact be to un-cover personal information about people. Not talking about their credit card or financial information... But you can piece identities together if you find enough stand-alone information out there.
FlyrFn4eva FlyrFn4eva 10 years
I think the message that the ad is trying to get across is an important lesson for everyone to learn - not just young girls; however, it does seem a little over the top. When I was younger, the computer was in the family room, in plain view of my parents, so (clearly) no shady stuff was going on. Especially as a college senior this year, I re-evaluated what I had posted on facebook, thinking about potential employers.. So - yeah, the message is appropriate, but not the means of conveying it.
catstarr catstarr 10 years
I dont think anyone will take the ad seriously if it doesn't seem realistic. And I'm sure lots of girls who post some racy pictures online never get recognized like that in public. This girl must be making some serious cash with her website. ;) jk. Scaring people with this like this isn't going to help.
colormesticky colormesticky 10 years
I figure as long as I'm not giving out my birthday, passwords, addresses, phone numbers, account registration email, or my last name then I won't worry about it unless something happens. I don't care if people know my likes and dislikes. None of that stuff is ever used as a security question for password recovery, and that's all I'm concerned about.
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