Coming across an unflattering photo of yourself on a friend’s Facebook or Flickr account during orientation week can be embarrassing for any student.
Prof. Greg Elmer, a cyber privacy expert and director of Ryerson University’s Infoscape Research Lab/Centre for the Study of Social Media, offers helpful tips on how students can protect their online privacy — and keep those unsavoury pics from going viral.
1. Begin with the assumption that nothing is private on the web. Regardless of privacy safeguards, it is nearly impossible to control your personal information on the web. Once it’s out there, it’s out there for good.
2. Always completely log out of public computers, especially those in libraries and other high-frequency areas like university computer labs. You don’t want the next user to come along and read through your email inbox. Don’t save any passwords on public computers either.
3. Read the privacy terms on websites. While this may seem obvious, studies show that very few users actually take the time to read the privacy policies of sites they use on a routine basis.
4. Check your privacy preferences and choose the settings that reflect your needs and comfort level. Begin with the highest level of privacy and adjust accordingly. Recheck privacy preferences and settings — they often change with little or no notice.
5. Don’t click on any links that come from individuals you do not know via email, Twitter or any other website. This is the easiest way for hackers to surreptitiously store information on your hard drive.