ATE

Adapt to Experience


"I worry about how other people might use what they learn about me, if I join groups online."

"I refuse to use my credit card online."

"I Won't Expose Who I Am Online"

The three statements above are quotes from my survey respondents.

This is a serious topic.  You can't live your life without risk.  Most of us are happy to walk on the street and happy to drive a car.  There are risks, but we think we understand the risk and that the benefits of taking that risk are significant.  

The same thing applies online.  

I have sympathy however with two groups of people.

People in high positions: This could be any one of us, at some stage in our lives.  First of all you are in a demanding situation and lots of people might expect more access to you than is possible.  People like this are unlikely to personally spend much time online.

People from authoritarian countries: That might be almost any country in the world.  I certainly have friends in India and China and the USA, who while being active online never identify who they are.  There are legitimate reasons why some people want and need to not use their own names.

On Ryze, 93% of people use their proper name.  On LinkedIn close to 100% use a real name.  This builds trust into the network.  Pretending to use a real name, which is actually false, would be to betray that trust.  Using a false photograph betrays trust.  People don't do that, because they understand the need to build a reputation of reliability online.  

Security

If you join the right groups, anything you need to know, the group will tell you.  All you need to do is ask.  Social networks are large helping circles.  They are not the right place to advertise your product line.  

When you join online networks you do have control over who can see your details.  It's always been my policy to keep my private details private and to make public my "business details".  If you don't have a business you can still have an alternate email address and contact details in that space.  For myself, I've always opted for my profile to be viewed by the public.  There is an option for profiles only to be visible to friends on most networks.  Of course my choice to make my profile public affects what I choose to write on my profile page.  

There are risks, that come with the process of being online at all.  For most of us those risks are small, given that you behave in a sensible way.  That begins with installing a programme to protect your computer from malicious attack.  It also involves taking basic precautions to protect your private data.  

Today the problem of spam still exists, but it's largely under control. I used to get 150+ spam letters a day.  Now there are less than 10.  I did change my email address about five years ago.  I have moved most of my social networking and list mail to Gmail.  Both my Internet supplier and Gmail have active and effective anti-spam programme's.  It's under control.  

I might add that many people who've been online a long time but never been active, report that they don't get any spam at all.  Understandable when they get only 20 emails a week and write only 3 or 4. Web sites publishing open email addresses allowed robots to trawl for addresses in the early days.  You seldom see an address today.  

© 2009 John Stephen Veitch. All rights reserved.         Privacy Policy