Today is Data Privacy Day 2009 - 'Be Careful What You Post!"

Real Estate Agent with Fathom Realty West Sound WA State 52404

This morning over on TechCrunch, Erik Schonfeld reminds us that today is "Data Privacy Day 2009" and exhorts subscribers on the inherent dangers of disclosing one's private information in exchange for participation in social media.

As a Community Builder here on ActiveRain, one of the constant issues of concern that I field through our Help Desk Ticket System is over thoughtless comments or inappropriate information recklessly published on our platform, and the often times difficult challenges of getting those comments/information removed in a timely fashion.

Even when we manually remove this information from our network, it can still take additional time for the search engines to update their systems, and for the data to eventually disappear. All the while, such words remain dangerously exposed to the entire world.

In today's 'litigation-happy' 'lawsuit-frenzied' society, we need to exercise exceptional care and caution in what information we publish to the digital record. Whenever legal proceedings ensue, court-ordered confiscation of computers is typically one of the first actions pursued, followed by a tracing of digital footprints, i.e. e-mails, browsing habits, and social media involvements.

The new-found cash cow for 'ambulance chasers' is the unauthorized use of copyrighted images/pictures. There are "professional" photographers who upload literally thousands of photos to the Internet, and then lie in wait, hoping for some unsuspectiing 'rube' to come along and copy/paste them to their blog/website. Shortly thereafter, an invoice from their legal counsel shows up in your mailbox to the tune of several thousand dollars!

In addition, being 'too' transparent with your personal information on social networks can open you up  to phishers, scammers, and identity thieves.

May "Data Privacy Day 2009" remind us to think twice about what we contribute to the digital archives, and that our words/actions can have a very long and lasting impact.


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Rich Jacobson is a District Director for Fathom Realty and a licensed REALTOR®; an avid Crab Hunter, Clam Digger, and Oyster Shucker, He is the Social Media Evangelist for Life on the Kitsap Peninsula & The Western Puget Sound in scenic WA State.


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Gail MacMillan
Titusville, FL

Hi Rich- I've always felt people are too free with their personal information online.  Now I'm going to shock you.  When I signed on to the December Radio Show I had to provide personal information which included my birth date.  There was no option to disregard that portion.  The shocking news is that I was born in the late 1800's, whatever the earliest year was ~ I chose it, not bad for 120 something!!! HAHAHAHA. 

Jan 28, 2009 07:31 AM #8
Lee & Pamela St. Peter
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices YSU Realty: (919) 645-2522 - Raleigh, NC
Making Connections to Success in Real Estate

I am still amazed how much information can be found out about someone online with really very little effort.  I think it would be easier to go undercover in the world than online!  Rich about those photographers lying in wait - that's just plain nasty.

Your Raleigh Realtors

Jan 28, 2009 07:50 AM #9
Connie Harvey
Pilkerton Realtors - Brentwood, TN
Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate

Rich, after all the discussion several months ago about copywrite issues, if I can't take my own photo, I'm using clipart!

Jan 28, 2009 10:07 AM #11
Marilyn Katz
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - Westport, CT
ABR, e-PRO -

Connie- watch out.  Clipart is also covered by copyright, unless purchased or specifically allowed.  The only difference is I don't think there's a sting operation set to trap its users - Yet.

Jan 28, 2009 10:47 AM #12
Jeff R. Geoghan
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Lancaster, PA
REALTOR, Marketing Manager

Now that registrations are coming back into vogue at many real estate websites, there will be a lot of new consumer data floating around to be abused. 

Jan 28, 2009 12:36 PM #13
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

I'll just go ahead and say out loud that I allow attributed use of my images on Flickr. 

Jan 28, 2009 01:57 PM #14
Eileen Begley
Coldwell Banker, DelMonte - Carmel, CA
Monterey Real Estate

You are right about being careful. Even if you take it down, it's still going to be out there forever!

Jan 28, 2009 03:30 PM #15
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

Lane:   Wasn't that an old TV show? My Friend, Flickr?, hold it, ...that was Flicker... Never mind!

Jan 28, 2009 05:04 PM #16
Patty Luther
Rock-n-Roll Realty - Lewiston, ID
Lewiston ID Real Estate, Idaho-Washington


kinda sad those ambulance chasers as you call them... patty 

Jan 28, 2009 05:10 PM #17
Kris Wales
Keller Williams Realty - Lakeside Market Center - Macomb, MI
Real Estate Blog & Homes for Sale search site, Macomb County MI

There also should be a "If you can't say something nice about your client don't say anything at all.." day. People rant and rave way too much about things they have no business talking about, let alone putting out there for all the search engines to find.

I hope this year won't be the year of Litigation Lottery.


Jan 28, 2009 10:22 PM #18
Barb Szabo, CRS
RE/MAX Trinity Brecksville Ohio - Cleveland, OH
E-pro Realtor, Cleveland Ohio Homes

Rich, As a parent I am constantly talking to my daughter about the dangers of texting, emailing, etc because it all can be so easily circulated, and so often to the wrong people. I think most teens have more experience in this area than many adults. Still we all make mistakes so it's best to proceed with caution when we choose the words that all the world can see.

Jan 28, 2009 11:10 PM #19
Bruce & Mary Smith
Savannah Lakes Homes - McCormick, SC
REALTORS, Savannah Lakes Village McCormick SC

Rich -Thanks for the reminder about giving too much personal information.  The copyright issue has always been an important one but it has never been enforced like it is now with the current technologies.  Thanks!

Jan 28, 2009 11:16 PM #20
Jeremy Blanton
Myrtle Beach Homes Blog - Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach REALTOR®-

Rich, this is so very true...they just hide in the bushes and watch.  Waiting for someone to prey on!

Jan 28, 2009 11:48 PM #21
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX

Wow...I know that there are many things to be aware of but the ambulance chasers in the form of pictures was an eye opener. The majority of my pictures have been taken by me since meeting you and Brad at ReBar camp! Thanks again!

Jan 29, 2009 01:00 AM #22
Esko Kiuru
Bethesda, MD


This is such a huge issue that can never be emphasized enough. One innocent careless slip on the Internet can lead to a truckload of trouble, unfortunately.

Jan 29, 2009 10:27 AM #23
Mesa, Arizona Real Estate Mesa Arizona Realtor
Homes Arizona Real Estate LLC - Mesa, AZ

Rich, right on! Isn't it too bad that grownups have to be told that what they write on the internet, is out there? We tell our children, but what about the adults?


Jan 29, 2009 10:52 PM #24
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

There a lots of PI's searching the internet -- My friend and I have found out a lot about a potential "beau" by searching the internet -- having only a couple of clues to start with.  Be careful out there.

Jan 30, 2009 01:57 PM #25
Fran Gaspari
Patriot Land Transfer, Inc. - Limerick, PA
"The Title Man" - Title Insurance - PA & NJ


Thanks for the reminder! We need to err on the side of caution and be blogging carefully...!!! Thanks,   Fran

Jan 30, 2009 02:05 PM #26
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

WOW!  I didn't even know there was such a day.  It's kind of scary don't you think?

Jan 31, 2009 08:13 AM #27
Dorie Dillard
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Thank you for reminding us. Fran is right we do need to air on the side of caution!

Feb 01, 2009 11:12 PM #28
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