If you’re keeping up with texting acronyms and initialisms, you know that TMI stands for ‘too much information’. The ease with which we can learn about each other through social networking helps cut through geographic and social barriers and it also creates a new responsibility for those of us who participate. That is, setting objectives and boundaries for the information we give out.

Remember the marketing phrase “enquiring minds want to know”?  That came from a tabloid advertising campaign in the late 70’s and 80’s. We may not hear the phrase very often anymore but it certainly retains its relevance today.  The Internet and social media have increased our appetite for personal knowledge.

There are certain pieces of information that should not be made public such as your full date of birth and home address. Identity theft is rampant enough – you don’t want to assist these people in finding your vital information. Take a walk through your social networking sites with an eye toward privacy and TMI.

For those who like to post really personal photos on Facebook (the kind you would not want business associates or prospective employers to see) there is an easy to use function that allows us to have our cake and eat it too. Simply create lists and designate your friends to each list according to how much and what type of information you want each category of friends to see. For example, you might designate a certain photo album available only to friends you have placed on your “family” list.

I’m sure by now you have Googled your name at least once to see what’s out there about you. But did you know that you can also set up a free Google Alert so you are notified every time your name pops up online? Check it out at www.google.com/alerts. Remember to set up an alert for all the possible spellings of your name and user names.

And one last site to mention is StepRep. This is where you can manage and build your cyber presence by tracking and rating your online mentions. I just signed up today. It was easy although you do have to have a Google account to get started. According to the StepRep tutorial they will take the instances you label as “positive” and link them to any social networking site you designate thereby increasing your positive hits and reducing the impact of the stuff you’d rather not see floating out there in cyber space associated with your name.

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