‘Think before you click’ is a standard mantra for teens using social networking. There is even more reason for this now since the US Federal Trade Commission has said that a private company, ‘Social Intelligence Corp’, can legally archive online data for 7 years.
Social Intelligence Corporation have been approved to gather and distribute personal info and images of job applicants that have been trawled from online sources including social networks. Job applicants must acknowledge and approve of a social network search, just like they need to approve criminal and credit history checks. However if you refuse permission will you really get the job?
We know that companies, universities and other organizations sometimes search the web of applicants’ details before offering a place, but this crystalizes the idea for our kids. Imagine what your 15 year old will be doing when they are 22… will they really want someone to search their back-catalogue of posts, images and tweets to find any potential skeletons? The after-party that went a little too far, the trick they played on another student, the cyber-bullying incident, the unfortunate image that their friend posted and tagged?
Seven years is a long time on the Internet, making it increasingly difficult to leave behind a the kind of teenage mistakes that an older generation can simply forget about. However, if a search returns negative information this must be reported to the applicant; the data can then be amended for accuracy.
However, it becomes ever more important to work with your children to protect their online reputation. The standard rules of ‘think before you click’, be paranoid about your security settings, and consider every shred of personal data before allowing it out on the web are even more important. Keep talking with your kids – discover what they know and think about managing their reputation online; they can regularly surprise with both their wisdom and their naivety. Encourage them to keep everything private, to consider whether a form they are completing really needs their compliance, whether the app they are downloading really needs their geo-location data; encourage them to be militant about their personal information: it is theirs and the have a right to privacy.
What your children post today will affect their options later on. Protecting their privacy goes a long way towards protecting their future academic and working life.