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Cartoon by Geek&Poke. Used under CC license.

My family has always had a computer in the house for as long as I can remember. I used the Reader Rabbit and Math Rabbit computer games for fun, but education pastimes. In middle school, I could be found on the computer playing RPG (roll playing games) with my friends at night. I never got into the My Space scene, mainly because I thought it was a waste of time. Instead, I designed my own websites and blogs and wrote under pseudonyms. Looking back, I realize how smart it was to use those pseudonyms.

The more things that go on the Internet, the more people are having problems with privacy issues and identity theft. While reading The New York Times writer Riva Richmond’s article about privacy on the web, I started wondering, what could I find on myself? A couple years ago, the only thing search engines could find were a couple articles from the local newspaper where I grew up (but even those are few, because they often misspelled my name), school rosters or mentions to me and my family in my eldest brother’s masters thesis. Now, I can find articles I’ve published with Ethos Magazine, blog posts from different classes, a couple of other articles published in different publications; and… unfortunately, my home address and phone number. Although, I wasn’t able to get it without paying around 30 dollars, so let’s hope no one wants to pay to find out information about me.

My mother is scared of privacy issues on the internet. She’s even held off on a Facebook account, even though she’s always saying it would make things easier to keep in touch with us kids. Honestly, I’ve also been slightly pressuring her to get an account, but I also understand her reasoning. What if, even with all the privacy settings set, someone still hacks in to the account and steals information. I get it. Especially with the most recent episode of Facebook hacking.

But, at least for the moment, I don’t feel like we need to stop using social media sites. The important thing is to be careful about what information we publish and what privacy settings we set. One way to be make it harder for people hacking into your information on Facebook, for example, is to secure your Facebook account. (You change it by going into account settings; go down to account security and click on secure navigation [https://].)

I am so lucky that I didn’t publish any actual information about myself when I was younger. Let’s just hope that I continue to be smart about what is published about my personal life, and what isn’t.