Online Privacy – Can You Really Protect Yours?

I recently saw a photo on Facebook, gasped, took a screenshot and sent it to my business partner. It was hardly anything scandalous. It was just a photo of my husband’s step mom as a child. I’d never seen one of those before. I wanted to share how surprised I was by what had changed and what had stayed the same.

But it made me think.

You see, my step-mother-in-law is not on Facebook. I’d be willing to bet that she has no idea that pictures of her can – and ARE – being shared on the social network. For that matter, my husband’s grandmother would be shocked how many photos I’ve seen of her on Instagram. But all of her grandchildren – our cousins – who love her very much post photos of their time with her online.

They’re all over the Internet.

How to Protect your Privacy Online

Perhaps you think I’m over exaggerating the ease with which things are now casually shared. My husband’s aunt and I are connected on Facebook. Her cousin (with whom I am not connected) posted a photo of her family that happened to include my step-mother-in-law as a child. Due to the way the privacy settings were set up on the photo, Facebook then showed me the photo. I then took a screen cap.

I’d bet none of these people have any clue I might have the photo. They probably wouldn’t care if they did know. But it likely didn’t cross their minds how quickly that information could be seen and shared. And my step-mother-in-law who thinks she’s safely not included in the online world would be shocked to know she’s on Facebook.

My real point in all this is that sharing is ubiquitous in our society now. So if you’re keeping your business offline for privacy reasons, you’re probably not doing yourself any favors. Odds are that you and your business are online whether or not you want to be. Customers can create listings and postings about you and your business in any number of ways – from creating reviews of your business to posting photos of you at work.

So, if you can’t beat them, maybe it’s time to join them. You should be actively monitoring what others are saying about you online. And while you’re at it, you might want to check out what they’re saying about your competitors, too.

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