How to: Understand the risks of personal web spaces and blogging


What are personal web spaces and blogging?

Personal web spaces are a forum for communicating and posting ideas, photographs, videos, and other multimedia. Blogging is an online dynamic collection of one's thoughts, opinions, selected links, and personal information. Personal web space services are used to communicate with "real-world friends", as well as "cyber friends".

Examples of social networking websites are Facebook, Instagram, and X. Users can post and exchange their information, photographs, documents, and videos. Each person can customize their site and include a wide range of personal information. These personal web spaces have also provided information to predators, potential employers, educators, attorneys, and law enforcement officials.

Understanding the risks of personal web spaces and blogging

Before using a personal web space service, you should read and understand the privacy policies and feature options. Know how to protect your information by limiting the personal information you post and by using available security features from the service.

Personal web space users that post and communicate personal information risk becoming victims of identity theft, stalking, or self-incrimination. In fact, some employers review personal web spaces during the interview and employee evaluation phases. Some security risks associated with online profiles include:

  • Online predators (including predators looking for underage users)
  • Unintended distribution of personal user information, including pictures
  • Loss of distribution control of personal information via the Friend-of-Friend feature
  • Cyberbullying Identity theft
  • Spam mail harvesters
  • Stalking/harassment
  • Some websites may not be secure

EXAMPLE: password not encrypted

  • Suspect links that could lead to infection by malware
  • Phishing attacks
  • Exposure to incriminating photos

EXAMPLE: sexual, alcohol, drug, or other illegal behavior

  • False sense of security
    • Information can be viewed by unknown users (those with ill intentions as well as potential employers or university officials)
    • Feeling of anonymity
    • False identity of users with ill intentions

If a Texas Tech official becomes aware of student, faculty, or staff illegal activity, they are required to take appropriate action. Information contained in a personal web space can be viewed as evidence of illegal or inappropriate behavior. For instance, a student may jeopardize and limit career options if employers find lewd or inappropriate content on a personal web space. Recent information from the media and education sector suggests that a student who lacks online discretion could damage their university enrollment and future career. As reported from the article, "Facebook, Myspace, etc. And Getting Hired" (June 22, 2006) on NACE (National Association of College and Employers) Spotline Online:

But, during the interview, something he was not prepared for happened. The interviewer began asking specific questions about the content on his listing and the situation became very awkward and uncomfortable. The son had thought that only those he allowed to access his profile would be able to do so. But, the interviewer explained that as a state agency, recruiters accessed his Facebook account under the auspices of the Patriot Act.