Social networking sites are a great way to reconnect with friends, get great deals on goods and services, play games or see the latest updates in the life of a family member. Social networks, though, are just that ─ social. Whatever is posted on social networking sites is not private, and once it is posted, it can never be fully deleted.

It is important to protect yourself and the University of Louisville when posting any content to a social networking site. Did you know when you take a picture with your cell phone that it now tells you the date, time and exact location of where the picture was taken? This is just one of many tools someone can use to find out private things that about you that you did not want revealed. You may say, “Only my friends can see my content,” but do you really know more than 500 people?

In today’s world, revealing too much information makes the job of someone trying to find you or keep up with you very easy. Whether it is a potential employer doing an Internet search or someone wanting to know where you are at all times, revealing too much information online can rid you of any privacy you may have or want. Here are some tips to keep you safe online and on social networking sites:

  • Don’t give too much information out about yourself in your profiles (e.g. personal information, children’s names and ages, etc.)
  • Be careful what type of pictures you post online. It is not always what the focus of the picture is but what is seen in the background that can be harmful.
  • Don’t post constant updates of where you are, where you are going, or where you have been. This is just inviting someone to follow you or know that you are not home.
  • Do set your privacy settings on your social networking sites.
  • Do know the people you allow in your network. There are many profiles on social networking sites that just want access to your information.
  • Do a web search on your name every once and a while. See what is out there about you!

Don’t have a mindset that no one will target you.

Today, more and more potential employers search online to see what is out there on potential candidates, new or old neighbors may be trying to find out more about you, and a person you may have known could hold a grudge from something that happened years ago.

Just remember, if it is easy for you to find out something about someone else, it is just as easy for them to find out something about you. You are your most important asset, so protect it.

If you have any questions or concerns about safe social networking, please contact the University of Louisville’s Information Security Office at

(Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles for Compliance Awareness Week at UofL.)