Online privacy

The BBC reports today that Oxford proctors are using the Facebook website to gain evidence about unruly post-exam pranks. They are checking students’ profiles and photos to find evidence of students being at the sites where problems have been reported.

This should remind us all to be careful about what personal information we share online. Not only do tutors check up on students but online searches about individuals can be used for other purposes – checking up on a new boyfriend, looking up a colleague, finding out about a potential business partner or client, or even recruiters checking up on the background of a job applicant. It has happened. People have lost jobs because of it. A recruitment consultant told me recently of a young man whose CV was excellent but whose potential employers decided not to interview him because of the photographs of drunken nights out in fancy dress that they found on the internet.

I’m always surprised at the number of blogs that detail exactly when and where their writer is going to be. “We’re all on holiday for the next two weeks!” they will announce, alongside proud photos of the new electronic equipment they bought last month. A burglar’s dream, perhaps.