Talking to a full auditorium of parents and students Richard Guerry, the founder of The Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-phone Communications, hosted a special presentation about safe online behavior.

In his presentation, Guerry stressed the message “Public and Private,” explaining that every material posted online, in apps, and even on private phones is public and permanent- even when one thinks the materials are private or deleted.

“One of the worst myths on the planet is that people think they can be anonymous online,” Guerry said.

Gurrey explained that the purpose of social media and technology is for instant and information, communication and to make sharing easier. However, people still feel they are entitled to privacy online.

“Privacy and social have opposite definitions. Why do people expect privacy from something called ‘social media’?” Guerry said.

Many of these falsehoods come from the media and marketers.

“They hide the truth in the privacy policy, which of course nobody reads. They shouldn’t be called privacy settings, but transparency settings. Social privacy is impossible,” Guerry said.

The presentation addressed the many risks one faces online. Guerry explained that one should never take to the Internet to vent anger or frustration. Even when “deleted,” there is technology available to retrieve it. Statements made in a moment of anger can come back to haunt an individual and have serious repercussions such as loss of jobs, scholarships and even criminal charges.

He also mentioned the danger of sharing and storing private photos and information on electronic devices, as hackers find ways to access this personal information. As technology evolves, so do the methods criminals use to harm people online. Guerry’s main solution to avoid these situations was to develop a “digital consciousness”.  Think, “Am I okay if this information public and permanent?”  As long as one is posting information they are okay with going public, then the person will never face the negative effects of sharing online.

In his presentation, Guerry made sure to note that it is not technology that is the problem. It is the fact that people have never been given the proper guidelines on how to use it.

“If we use technology the right way, it’s awesome. Technology is a tool- it’s how we use it that affects the outcome,” Guerry said.


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