Internet security tips: Facebook, privacy and illegal downloads

By Harry Pontiff

Facebook has clearly revolutionized the way people communicate and interact. This is accomplished through a technology that makes it extraordinarily easy to share information. But social media can also introduce problems such as theft of personal information, harassment, or threats. Because Facebook is “cloudbased” (i.e., externally hosted over the Internet), Macalester College has virtually no control over the application. The most effective prevention for problems such as those described above is to carefully review and evaluate all settings, especially privacy, timeline, friending, blocking, tagging, and security. Facebook provides powerful options to protect you – but you need to use them! • Use the “Preview my profile” button on any privacy settings page to check how your information appears to others. • Think carefully about who you allow to become your friend. A “friend” could transfer your information to someone else (who could then expose it widely). • Use “limited friends” to show only a cut-down version of your profile to certain individuals. • Disable all options until you’re sure you need and want each one. Additionally, many people are still confused about the issue of illegally downloading copyrighted material such as music, videos, and movies. They believe that if they just share files with others, and don’t charge for the files or otherwise make any money from file sharing, there is no problem. As a recent case in Brainerd, MN has demonstrated, however, two federal laws are clear: THIS IS WRONG. The No Electronic Theft (NET) Act makes it a crime to reproduce, distribute, or share, electronically or otherwise, copyrighted works such as songs, movies, games, or software programs, even if done without any commercial purpose. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) demands an effective response by the College when notified of potential copyright violations. Both acts are capable of imposing very serious penalties. Protect yourself (and Macalester College). Use legal sources. Music can be found at Music United and movies/TV shows at Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). As recently announced, these tips are offered as part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, one event coordinated by the National Cyber Security Alliance, a non-profit public-private partnership focused on cyber security awareness and education for all digital citizens. This year’s theme, “Our Shared Responsibility,” reflects the notion that no one person, department, or college is responsible for the security of the Internet; everyone must do their part. refresh –>