There is no delete button on the Internet!

It is not easy to know what the future holds, and lacking a working crystal ball, and some magic to use it properly, we have to rely on a lot of common sense

paul_cocks
Paul Cocks
11 February 2017, 10:27am
Sharing information online is not a bad thing, especially if you are using the experience to spread nice things
Sharing information online is not a bad thing, especially if you are using the experience to spread nice things
It is a simple fact, but with deep ramifications. Once information is online and it spreads, then it is impossible to have all copies removed.

Sharing information online is not a bad thing, especially if you are using the experience to spread nice things, such as information about hobbies, or as way to reach out to long-time friends, or to spread interest in a particular topic. However, you should always proceed with caution as any information which goes online can never be completely removed from the internet. At a young(er) age you may find nothing wrong with posting pictures of wild partying, or claiming affiliation with groups or ideologies which may not always be mainstream. At any age one may be misguided into sharing online the excellent meal one would be having at a restaurant, or the amazing views that one is enjoying on a holiday. 

There is nothing wrong with such sharing of information, however, this information can be used by others with less than noble intentions. If you are sharing that you are in a restaurant, you are indirectly verifying that you are not at home. If you are sharing your amazing views when on holiday, then you are confirming that you are away from home for a long time. And if you are making it obvious that you are not home, potential thieves have an easier time trying to bypass your home alarm to make off with your possessions, assuming that you do have a home alarm to begin with!

You must also take into consideration that the information shared online can be accessed much later in your life, possibly portraying a type of person with a character which may not be desirable at that time in your life. Potential employers frequently check the online profiles of would-be employees, and certain posts may also have an undesirable impact on the outcome of a job interview.

We have heard so many tales of information posted online which destroys the lives of the people linked to that information. These could be in the form of compromising pictures, a comment said at a time where it could be taken out of context, which gets quoted over and over, even a message that is wrongly marked as public when it was not to meant be so. Things cannot get much worse than the recent case where an Italian woman took her own life after a video, showing her in intimate moments, was circulated online.

Information shared online can never be truly restricted to a few people. It is not always the case that such people betray your trust and re-share such information, although it does happen as friendships break down too. But these people could become infected with malware that may disseminate this information, or steal usernames and passwords that would allow someone else to access online accounts containing personal information. Recent examples, especially of celebrities, have highlighted how such information can be used for blackmail purposes.

It is not easy to know what the future holds, and lacking a working crystal ball, and some magic to use it properly, we have to rely on a lot of common sense, and a little bit of restraint, when we are about to click share, or upload that picture, or comment on something which may have got our blood boiling at the time. Just presume that what goes online is a permanent record detailing your actions, and if you do not like that, then consider not putting it online.

This article is part of the National Cyber Security Awareness Campaign that was recently launched by the Ministry for Competitiveness, Digital, Maritime and Services Economy, in collaboration with the Steering Committee responsible for the National Cyber Security Strategy implementation. MITA is collaborating in this campaign which aims to cover the online security interests of the public sector, citizens, as well as the private sector, while giving particular attention to SMEs.

paul_cocks
Paul Cocks joined MaltaToday after having spent years working in newspapers with The Times...