Anonymous vs appropriate

George Couros, a Canadian Division Principal, has written a blog post responding to some of the statistics revealed by the 2013 Pew Report.

The statistics he reports are:

  • 91% post a photo of themselves, up from 79% in 2006.
  • 71% post their school name, up from 49%.
  • 71% post the city or town where they live, up from 61%.
  • 53% post their email address, up from 29%.
  • 20% post their cell phone number, up from 2%.

In addition to the trend questions, we also asked five new questions about the profile teens use most often and found that among teen social media users:

  • 92% post their real name to the profile they use most often.2
  • 84% post their interests, such as movies, music, or books they like.
  • 82% post their birth date.
  • 62% post their relationship status.
  • 24% post videos of themselves.

What Couros questions is the push from some schools and parents for students to remain anonymous on the net. As this is obviously not happening, Couros suggests that perhaps we should be teaching our young adults (and children) to post appropriately. A good digital footprint will soon replace a curriculum vitae (if that’s not already the case).

How Gen Y feels about online privacy

Earlier this year, a group of gen y panelists shared their thoughts about online privacy. The six panelists explained how they now modify their online behaviour as

“We live in public.”

Darius was keenly aware that everything he shares on Twitter or other social media platforms is “out there,” which has made him extremely conscious about what he posts. “I would expect people to be more conscious,” he said.

“I have to filter myself,” Jordan said, explaining that she was concerned that some photos or check-ins she was tagged in on Facebook would send the wrong message to employers and colleagues.

Tess was shocked to find out that she curses more than 90 percent of other people on the social network, and the information has changed her behavior.

It’s great to see young adults in charge of their social media accounts, taking into account the fact that they will be judged by what they post.

Read the whole post here.

Top ways kids hide online use from parents

The 21st Century Fluency Project reports the top ways teenagers hide their online use from their parents/guardians:

  • 53 percent = number of teens that clear their browser history to keep web visits off the record
  • 46 percent = number of teens that close/minimize their browser when a parent walks near (to hide the web site)
  • 34 percent = number of teens that hide or delete instant messages or videos
  • 23 percent = number of teens that lie or omit discussing details with parents about online activity
  • 23 percent = number of teens that use a PC their parents don’t check
  • 21 percent = number of teens that use an Internet-enabled mobile device
  • 20 percent = number of teens that use privacy settings to make web content viewable only by friends
  • 20 percent = number of teens that use private browsing modes or proxy web sites (which are free)
  • 15 percent = number of teens that create a private email address unknown to their parents
  • 9 percent = number of teens that create a duplicate or fake social network profiles and share one of them with parents

Is this a privacy issue or a matter of kids doing the wrong thing? Read the whole post here.

13 million Facebook users have never enacted any privacy settings

In a warning to anyone who is on Facebook or anyone who is blase about their privacy settings, this article from The Huffington Post (US) claims that 13 million Facebook users have never enabled any privacy settings.

With Facebook’s 1 billion active monthly users, 28 percent of them are reported to share all, or almost all, of their wall posts with an audience wider than just their friends — whether they know it or not. Additionally, 11 percent of Facebook users said that someone else has tried to use their login without their permission.

If you’ve yet to enable privacy settings or haven’t reset them in a while, now is the time to do so. Read the whole article here.

How much does the internet know about you?

Earlier this year, Make use of published a post about how much the internet knows about us.

 Have you ever googled your own name or that of someone else? About two years ago I searched the name of a friend. I was hoping to find his travel photos, but what I discovered were his criminal records. On top of Google’s first page. Devastating!

The post goes on to explain how you can change search results by adding new (and good) data, pages, comments and so on. The post continues:

How Can I Prevent Websites From Collecting Data?

Easy. Don’t use the Internet. Well, I see how this could be difficult. Maybe try not to share so much private data online and make it harder for websites to collect whatever you have to share. Disable cookies, browse anonymously, use fake user data, a disposable email address, and make sure your privacy settings are air tight and your passwords super safe. You are not only protecting your privacy, you are also defending youridentity.


Privacy is a luxury. Not only can your privacy be invaded through data available online, you can also end up with a stolen identity and a tarnished reputation. Maintaining your privacy is tough because it is not always clear what information is collected, stored, and shared. While there are tools and services available that promise to help you stay on top of privacy settings, this is an uphill battle. Never assume you are safe, but always remain attentive, guard your personal data like the treasure they are, and double-check your own search results for leaks.

What do your search results look like? Did the web reveal any information you are worried about?

Read the whole post here.

It’s privacy week

This week is Privacy Awareness Week, so it seems like a great opportunity to share some thoughts on how you and your family can have your privacy protected.

Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim spoke to ACMA Cybersmart and shares his advice for safeguarding your digital identity.

Here are some recommendations from me for protecting privacy online and when using smart devices:

  • Read the privacy policy of the social networking site or app — make sure your kids know what they’re signing up for. You can also tell them that reading the privacy information that is provided may also help control privacy settings.
  • Be careful about what information you give out — have your kids asked themselves what information is really needed or whether they can use a pseudonym?
  • Use the privacy tools available — make sure the anti-virus and anti-spyware software is up-to-date on your home computers and any laptops, and talk to your kids about updating their privacy settings on their social media.
  • Think twice before posting any personal information about yourself or others online — the internet is forever, and once it’s out there, it will always be there. I think it’s useful to encourage your children to think about whether they would like their grandmother, teacher, a potential employer or a future boy/girlfriend to see/read it.

The cybersmart post contains further tips, click here to access.

Facebook users face identity theft says ex-conman

The Guardian (UK) newspaper is reporting that Frank Abagnale (portrayed by Leonardo Di Caprio in the movie Catch me if you can) is warning Facebook users of potential identity theft.

 Abagnale said that children in particular need to be made aware of the serious risks of unwittingly revealing information on social networking sites.

Another readily available programme, which Abagnale said is owned by Google, uses facial recognition that can match an individual with their personal information on the social networking website “in just seven seconds”.

“If you tell me your date of birth and where you’re born [on Facebook] I’m 98% [of the way] to stealing your identity,” he said. “Never state your date of birth and where you were born [on personal profiles], otherwise you are saying ‘come and steal my identity’.”

He also advised Facebook users to never choose a passport-style photograph as a profile picture, and instead use group photographs.

The most interesting point Abagnale makes is:

Abagnale said that while it was common to see companies such as Facebook being criticised for privacy issues in the media, it is up to people to take action to keep their data private.

“Your privacy is the only thing you have left,” he said. “Don’t blame all the other companies – Google, Facebook – you control it. You have to keep control of your own information.”

Read the whole post here.