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Digital Literacy

This guide will help you to use information technologies and the Internet to find, evaluate, use, and share information in order to succeed academically and in your future career development.

Your online identity

Do you have a Facebook account? Do you tweet? Do you share any of the following information over social media:

  • photos and other media
  • age and gender
  • biographical information (education, hometown, etc.)
  • status updates
  • contacts
  • interests
  • you address or current whereabouts?

If you do, please remember that your online presence may enhance or damage your career opportunities and personal life.

How can this happen? Who can access your information?

  • Hiring managers and recruiters, who routinely review online information about job applicants.
  • Advertisers interested in personal information so they can better target their ads to those most likely to be interested in the product.
  • Identity thieves and other criminals. 

What about other people's identities?

"With an estimated 83 million fake profiles on Facebook, do we ever know who we can trust or who we're talking to online?" - this question opens a CBS news story referring to the experience of Nev Schulman, who had thought he was dating a young woman and later discovered she was middle-aged and looked nothing like her profile picture. He shared his story in the 2010 movie, "Catfish. " (Urban Dictionary defines catfish as "someone who pretends to be someone they're not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances"). In his book  "In Real Life: Love, Lies and Identity in the Digital Age," Schulman explains how people can protect themselves online and offers helpful signs for spotting a "catfish."

How can you protect yourself?

  • Be careful about the images, status updates, and other information you post.-
  • Consider separating personal and professional profiles.
  • Modify privacy and search settings in your social networks accounts.
  • Let your family and friends know what you do and don't want shared.
  • Think long-term about the information you share today.
  • Be polite and weigh your comments and responses carefully.
  • Restore damages done to your online reputation: ask the author or website administrator to correct or remove erroneous or undesirable information.

See Fight Identity Theft (UC Office of Information Security) for more tips.

Online safety tips

  • Create smart and strong passwords.
  • Your passwords should be at least 6 characters long and include numbers, uppercase and special characters.
  • Be careful about what you submit via email, chat, or instant messaging.
  • Never include SS# and account information.
  • Shop safely.
  • When you use your credit card, make sure the site is secure (the URL should start with https:// and you shoudl see a padlock symbol at the bottom right of the checkout screen).
  • Be careful when playing online games, especially those involving multiple players.
  • Install and update virus and malware protection software.
  • Watch out for phishing scams.
  • When you receive a message requiring that you submit your personal or account information, do not reply to the message.
  • Check the legitimacy of the business/site in a different window or calling the business, if applicable.

(Modified from MacAfee Security Advice Center Online Safety Tips)

See the following pages from the UC Office of Information Security for more tips:

Learn more about your online identity and ways to protect yourself

We used the following sources for this page. Please consult them for more information:

University of Cincinnati Libraries

PO Box 210033 Cincinnati, Ohio 45221-0033

Phone: 513-556-1424

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