If you are online you are creating a digital profile of yourself


iconsTHUNDER BAY – If you are online you are creating a digital profile of yourself. The information you are generating can be used by prospective employers, your current employer, your friends, prospective dating partners, and maybe even your spouse. Those pictures that you put online showing off the antics everyone thought was so funny, or those quick Tweets can come back to bite you if you are not careful. Some people may feel that only happens to celebrities, or politicians. It can happen to anyone. A soccer player in Great Britain was recently fined £6,000 for sending homophobic tweets by the FA.

Many people on their Facebook will share information that likely they don’t stop to think could become public. It could be a short rant over a bad day, or a comment about a boss or a co-worker. Those comments could cause problems for the individual who posted them if their employer found out.

For students there are rules in place as well, many of which are likely unknown to both parent and student. At schools in Thunder Bay under the Lakehead Board of Education: “Bullying has been added to the list of activities for which a student may be suspended and is identified as: “a dynamic of unhealthy interaction that can take many forms. It can be physical (e.g., Hitting, pushing, tripping), verbal (e.g., Name calling, mocking, or making sexist, racist, or homophobic comments), or social (e.g., Excluding others from a group, spreading gossip or rumours). It may also occur through the use of technology (e.g., Spreading rumours, images, or hurtful comments through the use of e-mail, cellphones, text messaging, Internet websites, or other technology.)”

Under the rules, a student even outside of school, posting something online from a home computer on a social media site is responsible for that post.

So what can be done to make sure you are building a good online repuation? As part of Data Privacy Day 2012, Microsoft is offering guidance and tips to help Canadians better manage their online profiles and maintain a positive reputation. Everything a person does online, from responding to emails and texts, uploading photos, making purchases or clicking the “like” and retweet buttons on favorite web pages contributes to their online reputation. However, new global research commissioned by Microsoft surveyed 5,000 respondents from Canada, the United States, Spain, Germany and Ireland suggests adults and children may want to be more mindful of how their digital activities impact their online reputations. In Canada, 57 per cent of adults and 55 percent of children aged 8-17 years old surveyed do not think about the long-term impact of their online activities on their personal reputation, and only 37 percent of adults and 41 per cent of children think about the long-term impact of their online activities on the reputations of others.

“Protecting what you share online is very important. Online information can affect your friendships, promotions and job offers. It shapes how people see you,” commented John Weigelt, the National Technology Officer, at Microsoft Canada. “Without protection, your personal data can also be used against you in online fraud or by unwanted marketers. Canadians need to protect themselves and help children get into the right habits as well.”

The results showed that children could use more help managing their online reputations from their parents. Only one-third (34%) of parents surveyed help their children manage their online reputations. Children 8-14 years old are more than twice as likely to receive parental help as children 15-17 years old (66% vs. 25%). Among children who posted information online at a social networking site, children 15-17 years old were more likely to experience a negative consequence to their online reputation compared to children 8-14 years old (62% vs. 50%).

The survey also showed that uploading photos in general is not viewed as a major contributor to online profiles. While only 6 percent of adults and 9 percent of children responded that it was a major contributor, photos are considered one of the biggest influences on online reputations.

To help Canadians put their best digital foot forward, Microsoft Canada offers the following tips to help cultivate and maintain a positive online reputation:

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