December security post: Managing your online reputation

Social media sites help you stay connected both personally and professionally, but the information you share can provide fodder for phishing attacks, identity theft, or allow people to make negative assumptions about you. Please check a sites privacy and security settings to manage your online public presence.


The most popular social networking sites are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus , Tumblr, Instagram and Reddit and Flickr. Do you utilize one or more of these? They each have their own unique set of privacy rules and settings. It is important to check to see what is being done with the information you post on these sites.

Recruiters (for college, sports, and jobs) are using social media more frequently to assess candidates’ qualifications. The type of information shared on social media can also provide fodder for phishing attacks and even identity theft, or allow people to make assumptions about you based on the groups that you are affiliated with.

Keep these dos and don’ts in mind when sharing online.


  • Ask questions about who can access the information you are posting online, who controls and owns the information, and what is shared with third partys.
  • Maintain a backup of the content you post on professional networking sites (e.g., LinkedIn).
  • Understand the default privacy settings on the social networking sites you use and how to change them to match your comfort level.
  • Keep your personal information private. It is rarely necessary or wise to share sensitive information.
  • Be cautious about accepting requests to connect online. Connect only to people you trust who will not misuse the information you post.
  • Check the location settings on photos and videos you post to social networking sites.
  • Avoid joining online groups where you don’t know all the members or what they stand for.
  • Use complex passwords to protect your social media accounts.



  • Don’t share information that could be used to complete a profile about you. For example, you could share your birthday, but not the year you were born. Or share your hometown, but not the address where you live.
  • Don’t share any information that is being used for verification purposes such as your mother’s maiden name, the name of your first pet, or the street where first lived. Consider making up alternate answers to those questions that only you would know.
  • Don’t post when you are traveling or going out of town on vacation. It’s an open invitation letting criminals know that you are in a different location and that your home is vacant.
  • Don’t post photos of inappropriate or illegal activities.
  • Don’t click on attachments or links without checking the source.
  • Don’t “check in” to every place you visit. That information could be used to identify you in a vulnerable location.
  • Social media is now frequently a reluctant (or sometimes willing) source to fake news stories. DON’T share, like or distribute fake news! Spend a few minutes to at least try and verify information you see online.


Thanks for your assistance in managing our digital lives. Please contact me or the Desktop Systems Department if you have questions.


Regards, Seth

Director of Desktop Systems

Office for Information Technology

Williams College