Golden Rules for Keeping Safe Online

Read Write Web recently posted a story that I thought would garner more comments. I suspect it only had three, as most people agree with Europe’s 17 Golden Rules for Keeping Safe on Social Networks but are breaking some of them out of neccessity.

This is what I mean. The following three ‘European rules’

  1. When joining a social networking site use your personal e-mail address (not your company e-maill address)
  2. Use a pseudonym
  3. Do not mix your business contacts with your friend contacts

are the ones I break. Do you?

1. I use my professional DET email address, not because I want to particularly but because my other email address are filtered at work. Years ago it was no problem to access Yahoo, Hotmail etc. but the SIBE ended all that in 2006. It is not that I want to access during work time, it is just that it makes sense to be able to do so if you need, so since 2006, I have used my professional email address for basically everything.

2. When I started using the internet, in 1996, pseudonyms were all anyone seemed to use. Nowadays, I do not know many people who continue to do this exclusively. 

3. Now this is challenging and I’d like to hear from anyone who is managing this separation of the various worlds of their life effectively.  I gave up on it years ago for a number of reasons but mostly, it was just impossible anyway. I think that rejecting the Facebook ‘friend request’ from work or a business colleague may have other interpersonal consequences. I routinely ’ignore’ with students for reasons explained here. You may choose to do this for a colleague but the person would really have to bug you. Privacy setting are the key for most, no doubt about it. I suspect that it all depends on the stage of life one is at and that need for privacy depends on lifestyle and the type of employment.

I think we all are learning as the era unfolds. The above European suggestions are sensible but for many, just too unwieldy and difficult to carry out. The more one has ‘an identity’ online the more it is possible to piece together the complete person. However, I suspect, that identity theft is more easily done to someone with a limited online life than a person with a complete profile.  Agree?

Should we place the European advice in context considering the history of the 20th century?

Do Australians, with a continent for a country and a very different history, for better or worse, have a less paranoid, more reckless attitude towards online safety?

Your thoughts?

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The views expressed at this site are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

8 Comments

  1. Mitch Squires:

    Hi Darcy,

    I hadn’t seen that list before but most of the ‘Golden Rules’ seem to make a lot of sense. When I read through the list, I realised I was breaking the same three rules as you, and mostly for the same reasons.

    DET blocking of all external email sites has meant that many people I know have had to resort to using it for basically everything.

    I see no need to use a pseudonym for my social networking activities. I generally don’t provide any other extensive personal details, and as per the rules I am thoughtful about what I post, so I don’t really see the need to hide behind a fake name.

    As for mixing business and friend contacts, that is an interesting one. I used to separate my ‘friends’ from colleagues by sticking to Twitter for business contacts and Facebook for personal contacts, but the lines got blurred when lots of my friends joined up to Twitter and wanted to talk there, and colleagues on Facebook.

    I now talk to a wide variety of people on Twitter, but keep my Facebook restricted to friends and those colleagues who I have a personal, social relationship with.

  2. I chose to use my school email when I was joining Twitter and blogs for professional purposes. It helps to separate from my more social activities, such as Fb. However, the boundaries are a little blurred. On Fb I have work colleagues as friends, because they are friends. I also have two ex-students as Fb friends. One lived with me for a year; the other is her friend. My school recommends teachers not to befriend students on social networks unless you are friends outside the Internet and they left school over a year earlier.
    When I joined Twitter somebody advised not to use a pseudonym to gain respect and trust. It was good advice. I also like to think I’m the sane person online and offline. I think it is sometimes dangerous for people to use pseudonyms online because it can be tempting to take more risks and be more risqué. However, to protect the people who appear in my writing on my blog I use pseudonyms for both them and me.

  3. Troy:

    I totally agree, a complete profile is a powerful connection.

    I don’t think many Australians consider the whole internet thing to be a serious re-consideration of education, knowledge, information, understanding and communication (to narraow it down),..

    The idea of a set of expectations is an ongoing process, evolving. We have always looked to Europe, specifically Britain, then and now the USA. I think we have a lot to learn from Ireland and Germany (particularly with Germany and environmental ideas)…

    I’m not sure Australians are more paranoid. Like in so many areas in Australia, education and the general public will be reactionary, rather than develop some kind of vision or social expectations for misuse and abuse. I still know a lot of Australians without the internet, so why would a government want to lead when the voting public are more concerned about other things…

  4. I agree with most of what you said and fortunately for me, yahoo and gmail are not blocked at work – work for an independent Catholic girls high school. Hotmail is blocked, as with Facebook. We can still get on to Twitter.

    Personally, what I found most thought-provoking in your spiel is the notion of identity theft being harder for true-blue net-izen.

    I would be more cautious though and qualify the statement with a “more likely”. That aside, I think that someone with an established presence online – therefore known to a greater populace – is less likely to have their identity stolen. This is in the sense that we are able to spot lies better with people we know….i hope this makes sense.

    Personally, I keep my personal and professional lives separate – to a degree and that’s because some colleagues are also friends. But, generally-speaking, my FB is a lot more private because it is more personal. I even separated out my blogs to separate my professional and personal interests. I have to say though that there were times when I couldn’t decide where to post a particular blog….we do carry a lot of ourselves into our professional lives. That’s what authentic humans do.

    One more thing, you can follow all the rules and still be at-risk. And that’s because danger is often wrought by those who disregard rules (or have their own) in the first place.

  5. Darcy
    I saw and ignored that same post from @RWW assuming it was directed at ‘private enterprise’ where online social networking maybe at odds with their career. As opposed to a teachers PLN (online social network) which is in direct alignment with your career.

    Ben :-)

  6. darcymoore:

    Yes Ben, I think that is a correct summation of the ‘European’ angle on all this. Having said that, think about the rules in QLD for ‘teachers’.

    BTW The ABC has some really smart and emerging
    new guidelines with 4 simple directives:

    - Do not mix the professional and the personal in ways likely to bring the ABC into disrepute
    - Do not undermine your effectiveness at work
    - Do not imply ABC endorsement of your personal views
    - Do not disclose confidential information obtained through work

  7. I think if you use a psuedonym that’s fine, but you shouldn’t hide behind it. If we all did that, everything would be fake – like in Second Life – the whole point of that is to not be yourself. But sites like Twitter and Facebook demand honesty if they are going to be effective and if you are going to be a valued member and contributor.

    So that’s where that Golden Rule falls down and where most people break it. Therefire, it needs to be qualified. -

    “Use a pseduonym when registering for open social websites.”

    “When registering for closed social websites where you choose your friends/colleagues, be yourself.”

    As for registering with your private email rather than your company email – I totally agree with this. While it is possible you will ALWAYS be professional with everything you publish on-line, there are times you may slip and your employer may not appreciate it.

    Register with your personal email from home where it is unblocked. It’s then not needed at work. Check your employer’s policy about using work-supplied resources for personal purposes, most offer a “fair-use” clause, but it’s the interpretation of “fair use” that can make employees accountable.

    But if everybody was aware of these golden rules – especially those relating to mobile phone use for connecting to social networks, there’d be a lot let problems for people.

  8. kmcg2375:

    I found that once I got over trying to seperate my personal and professional self, and embraced a more holistic online identity that I felt more authentic. Admittedly it means that I filter what I say/do, but I do so for both audiences – less swearing than irl ;) But it ‘keeps me honest’ as I only put out things that I would be prepared to defend to any audience.

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