Have you ever tried Googling your own name?
I have. It was a bit of mindless fun, but somehow the results that came out were pretty disturbing.
I love my social media. (especially blogging, haha!) When I was in my teens and even up til my early days in college, I was guilty of not filtering my posts. I’d put up tonnes of pictures everywhere, indiscriminately, with no care about who was seeing what and how the info could fall into the wrong hands.
These days, after having been stalked by a couple of online people, I try to hide most of my posts, and post up stuff that isn’t too personal. I have privated my old blogs, but some of the images still remain on Google and I have no way of removing them. D: Doesn’t help that I have a one-of-a-kind name and it very clearly points out that it’s me. Derp.
Now that I’m a journalist, it’s even more crucial not to let people find out personal info about me. Coz I might be putting my life on the line in exposing news and certain parties might trace it back to where I live, how I look like, and threaten to hurt my family (it has happened to seniors before!) At the same time, being a young adult, I have this desire to document what my life is like, share it with the world, maybe look back on it when I’m older and see how much I’ve grown.
So how does one keep a balance?
1) Limit photos of yourself online. I know some vain girls (myself included!) want to show the world how good youth is to them and wanna show off while they still have it, but remember that you don’t know what people are gonna do to your photos. Pix of famous local blogger fourfeetnine (fourfeetnine.com) have ended up on naughty websites and caused her a tonne of trouble.
It’s probably okay to post one or two of your cute selfies, but not a whole albumload of them.
Also, it’s not okay to post up pictures of you dancing half naked in the bowl of punch at last night’s drunken party. Very, very bad idea.
2) Post things that won’t incriminate. Like the exact location of your home. Or what make and model your car is, etc. Sometimes we do it in a harmless kind of way, ie we just wanna share our thoughts, but you never know who is reading that stuff. (I don’t even know who is reading this stuff now dammit.) Note that when it’s something in the public space, there’s always a risk someone might use it for whatever purpose. I’ve had photos grabbed by someone without permission before and passed off as theirs. Which is why I watermark most of my pics these days. (It can be erased… but better than nth, right?)
3) It’s probably okay to post up things you like, like books, travel food… etc. But definitely not too much personal information. I google searched myself and was surprised that there is actually a search engine that gathers such data. It even pinpointed my exact location in Sheffield when I was studying in England. Pretty scary.
I have attempted to remove my stuff from the Internet associated to my name now (coz my byline gets run in the paper and they can definitely trace it to some of my info) but meh, it seems like once it’s on there, it’s on there for practically forever. So folks, remember, the next time you post something, think of all the above points I mentioned.
That, or don’t be a journalist.