Sane and Safe Social Networking
By Christine Peterson
Social networking focuses on building relationships among friends, relatives, colleagues and former classmates. Some networks may be purely social while others concentrate on establishing business connections. A May 2009 survey of people in 38 countries conducted by comScore Media Metrix showed Russians to be the most engaged social networkers. They spent an average of 6.6 hours per month on social networking sites. Canadians averaged 5.6 hours per month and residents of the United States 4.2 hours. Approximately 65 percent of the world’s Internet users visit at least one social networking site monthly.
While still evolving, the implicit etiquette for social networking includes the following:
Set up the most stringent privacy settings possible for your online profile. Recognize
that there is still a risk this information could be read by strangers. Don’t embarrass
yourself with your postings.
Be especially careful about posting photos. Most sites allow you to remove pictures that you find embarrassing, but remember that even if you remove information from a site, saved or cached versions may still exist on other computers.
Keep your social and business contacts in separate social networking accounts. Your supervisors really shouldn’t and don’t want to know about all your recreational activities! Too much information could unintentionally influence a personnel decision. Imagine the surprise of one young woman who abruptly stopped receiving monthly disability benefits from her employer’s insurance company when they saw photos of her on her Facebook page — appearing happy and having a good time on the beach. She had been diagnosed with a serious medical condition that made her unable to work, and was caught having too much fun!
Limit the amount of personal information you post. Details such as address, type of
car, or work schedule make you vulnerable to stalkers.
Choose a screen name that protects your anonymity. Think about how easily clues
can be combined to figure out who you are and where you live or work.
Be wary of strangers, who can easily misrepresent their identities and motives. Be
cautious about what you reveal, and ensure that personal boundaries are maintained.
Use sound judgment and discretion when posting messages. If you are angry, wait
until you calm down to send messages.
Be aware that social networking can become addictive. If your use becomes excessive and you are ignoring basic responsibilities, or if Internet inaccessibility causes you feelings of anger or depression, consider getting assessed for abuse or dependence criteria. If you have concerns about your Internet habits, you can contact CareBridge, the employee assistance plan offered by the university. CareBridge is available 24 hours a day, seven days per week, by calling 1-800-437-0911. It also maintains an online library about almost 2,000 life concerns at www.myliferesource.com, which CUA employees can enter by using the access code HSBH4.
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Last Revised 27-Apr-10 10:50 AM.