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Five Safety Rules of Social Media

Do you consider the internet to be safe? Think about how you use it on a daily basis – and try not to base your judgment on what you’ve seen on the Dateline NBC show To Catch a Predator. Even though the show was meant to be a one-time special program it became a successful series due to the high ratings (and the ease of finding accused criminals), but that doesn’t mean that the internet has to be a scary thing. Social sites can be great tools for individuals and businesses, but how can you protect yourself? Here are five safety rules that can help you stay out of online trouble.

1. Nothing is 100% safe. That’s right, there’s no King of the Internet to enforce that great deal you found, guarantee a return, or to make sure your identity information will never be given away. Yes, companies have privacy policies and rules to follow, but not all of them follow through 100% of the time. Also, international commerce can be a tricky issue because of different laws and jurisdiction. Do everything you can to stay informed about those you’re doing business with online.

2. Watch out for fine print! Make sure you read the return policy. If you’re skeptical about buying something, know that the pictured item might not be exactly what you’re really getting. Take the time to read the details before you commit.

3. Don’t publish your year of birth. It is just one more valuable piece of personal information that can be used to steal your identity. The month and day is safer to disclose, but the year of your birth is best kept as a secret online.

4. In terms of what you blog about, “If you wouldn’t publish it on the front page of the New York Times, don’t publish it in a blog,” said Caroline Melberg, Marketing Maverick. This means that just because you think you have a local audience of readers that you trust, you’re still making that information available to anyone who wants to find it – yes, that means it’s available to EVERYONE.

5. Finally, don’t ever publicize times when you’re leaving for a vacation, when your house is empty, or when you’re going out alone – this is especially true for location-based services. You’re letting everyone know the most vulnerable times to be robbed, attacked or something worse.  Blog about your vacation or your night out after you come back.

While there will always be people out there that do not have your best interest at hand, these tips are just a few of many to help keep yourself and your company safe while using social media! Are there any precautions that you take or tips you use while on social media sites?

Published on: August 17, 2010