Contemplating your digital footprint: the “Mum” test

ZDNet has published a thought-provoking article about security issues that arise when allowing virtual representations of yourself to crop up online. While personal branding may be a big trend this coming year, it’s also worth looking at the other side, namely the security implications of being networked online and how people, brands and organisations can show the professional sides of their personae, while keeping their private selves.. well… private. Facebook photo deletions here we come!

Speaking of Facebook, I think this issue is where they could really feel the pinch in years to come. Sure, people have reacted by the warning of incriminating social network info making you lose out on job interviews by taking themselves off the FB’s public search function, but how do you guard against those pesky apps that send your information to all and sundry without telling you expressly? If I was in the Facebook PR team’s shoes, I’d be making it my mission to have Facebook owning the identity security debate in terms of thought leadership and be seen to be proactively taking steps to protect its subscribers.

Here’s an idea that I’ve used. It’s called “the Mum test”. Here’s how it goes. If you are about to put something online that is private, whether it’s a lifecast about how good your weekend was, or a Flickr pic of something tasteless but funny, ask yourself this: Would you want your mum to see this? If not, simply DON’T put it up.

Sometimes, other people are the culprits: posting lurid updates about their relationships onto your wall, or uploading images on their Flickr pages. I find that “the mum test” is a good way to turn a potentially awkward issue into something that is easy to talk to friends about (especially those pals in professions where reputation is very important) as it humanises the digital footprint and security debate.


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  1. Pingback: test taking skills | Digg hot tags

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