This week, we've been talking about some of the concerns surrounding the roll-out of Facebook's new "open graph." Facebook is the most popular and influential social network, and whatever they do affects all of us, so these changes are important. While we're discussing online security, let's talk about personal safety online.
Never post your date of birth, SS#, or home address online - This includes social networking sites, discussion forms, and resume sites. If you need to post a mailing address for business purposes, invest in a PO Box, either through the Post Office, or a service like the UPS Store.
Never post the names of your small children online - This ranks right up there with putting the names of your kids on the back of your minivan. Are you trying to attract child predators?! Of course not. Once your kids are old enough to fully understand "stranger danger," they still need to be supervised whenever they're online.
Do not advertise when you are going to be away from home for an extended period of time. This is an invitation for a robbery. Even if you aren't posting your home address, would-be theives can usually easily figure out who you are and where you live by navigating your friends' profiles on the social networks.
If you are meeting someone in person that you've met online (e.g. to complete an auction sale), be sure to meet in a public place such as a coffee shop, and never go alone - take another adult with you.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.