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The Internet is Always Watching
By: Aprel Phelps Downey
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Facebook creates a digital connection to family and friends. Foursquare provides a convenient way to meet up with friends for a night on the town. Instagram captures irreplaceable moments in a virtual photo album perfect for sharing. Twitter condenses personal thoughts and business ideas into 140 characters or less. LinkedIn allows us to network with potential business clients. The information sharing does not stop there.

Email exchanges with family, friends, coworkers, and bosses open a window for sharing even more public information online. Yes, your personal intentions are to keep the contents of that email private and never let it go past that email conversation. However once you hit “send” that email content is now solely in the hands of the recipient. Where that email content goes next or how the recipient handles the information is out of your hands.

Courthouses across the country are routinely housing public court documents in an online database searchable by anyone with Internet access. Zillow.com provides detailed information on houses in neighborhoods across the country. This information includes physical home addresses, recent sale prices for the home, and whether or not the home is currently in the process of foreclosure. Various local police departments have started posting weekly arrest records complete with mug shots online as well. So that crazy night with the guys that everyone vowed to keep quiet about will most likely not remain a secret for long!

As a society we have gotten into the habit of sharing practically every detail of our lives online. We send an email, post a Facebook status update, or tweet the first thing that comes to mind. All too often we hit “send” without giving it a second thought. It is only once that post or tweet is out there for the world to see that regret begins to set in. We scramble to delete the careless social media interaction from its online existence. Yet the damage may already be done.

Your boss has already seen that Facebook picture from the beach on the day you called in sick. A college admissions officer has already read that tweet you posted about not taking school seriously. A potential employer viewed the Instagram photo of you sneaking office supplies. Each of these "in the moment" social media interactions speak volumes to your character.

Rather than stressing out over your information that is already online, simply be more diligent about what you share before you share it. Never give out your social security number, date of birth, or home address. Use a fictitious name in an online discussion forum or chat room. Think twice before sending that tweet, status update, or picture into the world.

Just because the Internet is always watching doesn’t mean you need to give it something to talk about!  

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About the Author
Aprel Phelps Downey is a writing/marketing professional who holds more than seven years marketing experience, including all aspects of promotional and informational campaigns and website development.  To learn more about Aprel please visit her website at www.aprelphelpsdowney.com or follow her on twitter: @aphelpsdowney.
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