Information Technology and Services

Protect You & Your Rep Online
Social media

Protecting yourself and your reputation on the Internet

Advice for using social media and online services

Guiding principle

Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your parents (or grandparents) to see.  Assume everything you post is public, will be read by anybody, and will last on the Internet forever.

Google and other search engines
  • Take a moment to search for yourself to see what others will see. Assume that acquaintances, friends, and prospective employers will do a search. Not to mention potential future in-laws and business partners.
  • Make sure that you have ‘good information’ near the top of Google results by using services like Consider setting up a Google Alert on your own name.


  • Avoid posting pictures of yourself or others in potentially compromising situations, such as drinking, hard partying or other activities that may cast you in an unfavorable light.
  • Be careful of what you include in your profile.  You probably don’t need your phone number, address or other personal information there.  Never include your social security number.
  • Edit your personal settings for all on “Applications, Games, and Websites etc…”. If left unchanged, applications, games, websites, and your friends (or others) could pull your information, photos, and videos without your consent.!/help/?faq=13026
  • Do not display personal information such as your full birthday, exact address (or dorm room) or phone number on Facebook public searches.
  • Categorize friends into lists. Lists allow you to decide which friends can see specific information.!/help/?faq=15705
  • Disable the privacy setting that allows third-party sites such as Pandora to connect to your feed.!/help/?faq=15620
  • Block anyone other than yourself from seeing your tagged pictures and check often to un-tag inappropriate pictures.
  • Facebook does not let you control who sees what you “Like.”  Do not “Like” anything that you would not like to be associated with, or that appears to discriminate against individuals or groups, or condones unsavory or illegal activity.
  • Determine your purpose for using Facebook and Twitter accounts (i.e., friends and family or professional networking), then tailor and use your accounts accordingly.  Consider setting up separate accounts, or using different services (i.e., LinkedIn for professional networking) for different purposes.
  • Be cautious of online multi-player games such as Farmville and Mafia Wars, since applications like these have the potential to attract strangers to your page, and can increase the risk of exposing your computer to spam and viruses.
  • If you feel you are a victim of harassment or abuse stemming from Facebook, you can report it at
  • If you ever want to deactivate or delete your Facebook account, follow the instructions at 

  • When using Twitter, be conscious of the nature and tone of your tweets. The Library of Congress keeps a record of every tweet, and anyone on the Internet can view them. Everything you tweet is public, and can be read by anybody.
  • Think before you link!  Beware of sites that ask for permission to access your Twitter account to link to stories.  Not every site is reputable in their practices for protecting your information.

Consider creating a professional LinkedIn profile page to be used for professional networking.

Geographic Position System (GPS)
GPS-capable applications are able to pinpoint your location, and can include that location information in data they display on the web or in messaging, often without your being aware of it, or of who can see it.
  • Many smart phone applications automatically enable geo-location updates, unless manually changed. Disable location settings when not using GPS or apps directly (saves battery too).
  • When using apps like Foursquare, don’t create a check-in at your dorm room or home address. This avoids revealing your home’s location, and whether you’re home or not.

For more information, visit:

Special thanks to SU’s School of Information Studies for helping us develop this page.

SU iSchool logo


Still can't find what you're looking for?

Try Answers

Or log into Answers for even more results Authentication required