The following are tips for safe surfing, courtesy of the College of the Rockies in Canada website:

Tips for Smart Social Networking

Social networking such as blogging, Facebook, video and photo sharing is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, meet new people, and express yourself. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re creating and exploring social networks.

1. What happens online stays online!

When you put information online it will almost always stay online somewhere — whether you remove it or not — and that information might come back to haunt you. So think before you post online.

Above all you want to make sure that you’re safe, so be careful about the type of personal information you post. Most social networks that store your information (i.e. Facebook) allow you to set your privacy levels. Find out how the privacy settings work and use them!

Did you know?

  • 11% of employers will search online for information about you before hiring.
  • Your personal photos can be downloaded and used by others on most sites. Consider adding a watermark to your photos so they can’t be easily altered. There are a number of free photo editing tools that allow you to add a text watermark.

A good rule of thumb:

Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want your parents or a potential employer to see, now or ten years from now.

2. Play nice with others.

Just because the Internet makes it easy to post messages about other people, doesn’t mean that you should. Before you write that ranting post about the classmate who didn’t pull their weight on a group project, or that instructor who gave you a bad grade on your term paper, stop and think.  How would you feel if someone posted similar things about you?

Remember tip #1 — what you post online might stick with you forever. Do you really want to be known forever as the person who made a crazy rant about a grade or a classmate? You also should be concerned about privacy and legal issues. If you post something about someone that proves to be incorrect or defamatory, you could be liable in court.

Use your common sense:

If you wouldn’t say it to a person’s face, you probably shouldn’t say it online. Be considerate of the feelings of others, and if you do have a legitimate complaint try to offer constructive criticism.

3. Don’t write about illegal activities.

Anything posted on an IMSA-sponsored social networking site that mentions illegal activities will be pulled from the site. But remember tip #1 … even after we remove it from our sites your post might still be making the rounds somewhere in Cyberspace, so don’t do it!