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Practical Application: Deciding What Information to Share Online

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Being safe about sharing information online is important both personally and professionally. In this lesson, you'll read three scenarios to help you determine whether certain information is safe to share online.

Sharing Information Online

It can be tempting to want to share all of the exciting - or even frustrating - things that happen in our lives with our online friends. But, when it comes to sharing information online, the best rule to follow is ''less is more.''

Information we share online can live on forever and be seen and used against us by people we never imagined: potential employers, business competitors and criminals looking to take advantage of us.

When deciding what information to share online, remember to never post:

  • personal details
  • passwords
  • addresses
  • any type of number that should be private such as:
    • credit card numbers
    • driver's license number
    • Social Security number
    • bank account numbers

When it comes to work information, never share confidential matters such as:

  • new projects that haven't yet been made public
  • trade secrets
  • internal policies
  • other information that has been labeled as ''do not share'' by someone inside the organization

It is safe, however, to share things like:

  • vacation photos (after you've returned)
  • favorite movie or books
  • quotes that you like
  • projects you've finished at work that can be shared publicly
  • career accomplishments and awards

With that in mind, take a look at these scenarios and decide whether or not you think it's safe to share with your online audience. Write down your answers to the questions presented at the end of each scenario.

Scenario #1

Your company is working on an important new product that promises to change the way consumers shop online. They have not made any of the details about the product available to the public yet and are heavily guarding all of the trade secrets associated with it.

As a team leader, you helped to create the product and are intimately involved in the development process. Working on this project has given you a lot of personal and professional satisfaction, and you feel some sense of ownership over the product since you were so instrumental in its development.

The company won't be ready to launch the product for three short months, but you'd like to share just a few of the details of the product on your personal social media account so that your friends and family can see what you've been up to.

Practical Application

  • Do you think it's safe to post product details related to you work project?
  • Why do you think it is okay or not okay to share details about the product?
  • Do you think sharing the product details will cause you problems at work or with your boss?

Scenario #2

You're having difficulty with a piece of software that you use every day at work. Because you're employed by a small company, you don't have an IT department to help you out and you need to figure it out for yourself.

You decide to ask online to see if any of your tech-savvy friends can help you out. Your buddy, Rod, responds and says he works with that software all the time. He asks you to email your company log-in credentials and passwords to him so he can try to help you out.

Practical Application

  • Do you think it's safe to email your company log-in information and password to Rod?
  • What is your reasoning for choosing to share or not share your company log-in credentials and passwords?
  • Do you think your employer would approve or disapprove of your choice? Why?

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