Preparing for College

Holiday Precautions Online

Its official, the holidays are here. From holiday parties to family get-togethers, season's greetings end up as much online as they do in person. This is especially true for students during the holiday downtime.

Before you go posting those festive photos on Facebook or trading stories on Twitter, make sure you're protecting your online reputation. After all, why regret that last post you didn't mean to send when you could be welcoming the New Year worry free?

Here are five helpful hints:

Think Before You Tweet –Today's digital universe is full of tell-all updates and real-time communication, which puts your cyber-reputation at risk. Whether it's posting your ugly sweater party photos to Facebook or tweeting your countdown to NYE, it's too tempting not to share every detail. Most of us don't take into account where that one photo or comment may show up—or at what period in our lives. Avoid any uncomfortable or embarrassing situations by closely monitoring what you post online— what may seem okay to you one moment may not sit well with you the next. Listen to your instincts and think—not drink— before you tweet.

Stay Actively Involved on Social Networks – Just because the holidays usually mean time off from work or school, it doesn't mean that social networks take a vacation. Rather, they are even more prone to activity due to online shopping, eCard sharing, booking travel and of course friends and family uploading photos and checking in. Staying on top of what is being posted and tagged online will save you the trouble of having to find out too late about inappropriate pictures, blog posts, Tweets or check in shout-outs.

Protect Personal Information – You might think the New Year is off to a bad start if you become a victim of identity theft or a phishing scam. Keep your identity and your reputation intact this season by limiting the amount of personal information you share within your social networks. Instead of posting your mailing address for New Year holiday cards for all to see, send the information in a direct message only to people you know and trust. Consider safeguard software. It will help you stay protected on social networking sites as it scans for malicious links.

Update Privacy Settings – Don't want your close relatives or boss to see those late-night holiday pictures? Well, if you're going to put them online, make sure you've customized your privacy settings. Most social networking sites enable you to choose who sees your information, and how much of it, so update your settings before you post. This will give you more control over protecting your reputation.

Live Offline the Way You'd Like to Appear Online – In today's world it is an unfortunate fact that anything you do in the real world can be captured one way or another and posted online. Be careful of what you share with casual or recently made acquaintances, and if you're outside, it's safe to assume you could be recorded anywhere and at any moment. A paranoid delusion? With five billion cell phones in the world, many of them with picture and video capturing abilities, the delusion is in ignoring it.


Better safe than sorry. Don't let "Ho, ho, ho! become "Oh, no, no, no!"


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