Could Wikileaks Postings Jeopardize Your Child’s Future?
The news about Wikileaks and the potential threat to our national security is making headlines throughout the world. If you haven't yet had a conversation with your child about Wikileaks, but you believe he or she is talking about it with friends or at school, it may be prudent to have a conversation about social network etiquette regarding sensitive political matter and the possible implications to your child's future.
If your child has any aspirations of running for political office at some point in her life, Wikileaks offers a great teaching moment about how one should manage his or her reputation – both online and offline – very closely. The wrong photo, video or comment, however innocent, may come back to haunt your child when she’s being vetted by Congress for the Presidency, or any political office for that matter – this includes diplomatic office. While fostering open conversation at home or in the classroom regarding the historical meaning of the Wikileaks events can be useful, publicly posting comments, 'Likes' for certain Facebook pages, or even negative opinions about a politically controversial topic like Wikileaks may make oneself vulnerable to possible surveillance, attack by online hackers defending Wikileaks, or political scrutiny.
This week’s Huffington Post article titled “State Department To Columbia University Students: DO NOT Discuss WikiLeaks On Facebook, Twitter” raised a red flag for those who might associate themselves via social network comments, tweets or blog postings about Wikileaks. A follow-up post by Change.org mentioned that the dean of Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs made a statement in response to the news stories that students were in fact free to discuss Wikileaks on social media, which seems more like a wise public relations move on behalf of the University, than prudent career advice to its future diplomats.
If there’s one thing that the recent Wikileaks controversy has brought to light, it’s that almost nothing – even super secret government diplomatic cables – remains private when information given to the wrong hands is ‘leaked’ online. Despite the fact that the Wikileaks site itself has been shut down, hundreds of ‘mirror’ or duplicate sites have popped up around the world. And once information is spread online – however true or untrue – it becomes nearly impossible to ‘retract’ that information and make it disappear, much to the dismay of the U.S. State Department.
If, instead of secret government cables, we were talking about a secret that your child had shared with her BFF on Facebook, a similar privacy fiasco could ensue. For example, if your child's BFF friendship goes sour and that trust is breached, it’s possible that your child’s former friend could turn into a cyberbully against her and publish confidential information or uncompromising photos, causing both emotional and reputational damage to your child.
Make sure your child is aware of the risks in sharing information on Facebook, photo sites and even text messages. Advise your child against posting anything online that would compromise her online reputation or your family's privacy if the information fell into the wrong hands. Even if your child's privacy settings are set to the strictest levels, make sure she's aware that anything she posts on a social network could be ‘breached’ and become public knowledge overnight.
Think before you post, and teach your child to do the same. Get SafetyWeb to be alerted automatically as soon as your child's privacy settings change, or his or her posts become worrisome and warrant further review.
Tagged as: internet safety for kids, internet safety for teens, Online Reputation, parental control, social networking safety, wikileak postings, wikileaks