A recent blog post by Vancouver Sun tech reporter, Gillian Shaw, prompted several valid questions around online identity.
Shaw outlines the ways in which online social media sites like Facebook and Twitter treat your personal identity as though it were currency. While there is no monetary charge involved with signing up for a Facebook or Twitter account, the sites do impose another cost – that of your online privacy.
By collecting information about what articles you read, what sites you visit and particularly in the case of Google, tracking the topics of your emails, your preferences and ad value are assessed. Have you ever wondered why you suddenly see wedding advertisements on the side bar of your gmail account after sending an email to your friend about her bachelorette party? That’s because Google is offering their services as an aggregator and in this case, the information they are aggregating is all about you.
Shaw spoke with Simon Fraser University communication professor Peter Chow-White to get some perspective on the relative awareness that most young people have as to the privacy settings on sites like Facebook.
Chow-White told Shaw that, “Some of them don’t know the consequences of sharing everything, especially as their digital footprint or digital identity will be walking into the room with them on job applications.”
While online sharing is in fact integral to networking in a digital age, the fact remains that it’s up to an individual to take control of their digital identity.
Check your privacy settings and think twice about what you post. With a little bit of knowledge, you can ensure that your online identity is a positive one – maybe even worth a new job!