People live on the Internet, interacting with each other on cellphones and computers daily. People talk on social media and networking sites, sharing insights about their lives. The information they share reads like a diary of daily thoughts and activities, including everything from logging in on where they are located at the moment to sharing their favorite music video. And every single activity and piece of shared information is stored on the Internet for posterity.

That could be a good or bad thing. Social networking sites cull information that can be used by government, businesses, hackers, employers or your enemies to make decisions about you or be used against you. Therefore, it’s wise to adjust your online profiles for a specific image and to protect your personal details in the Information Age.

No profile

Your granny has no profile. Or maybe she does. Frequently, people with little to no access to the computer and little understanding of how to work the cellphone you purchased for them at Christmas will not maintain an online profile. Many older people feel if you want to have a conversation, pick up a phone and call. The rest of the activities done online are useless. Others with no profile include the social-networking wary. Some believe there is enough information about people out there. You don’t need to put more out. So they will not join any of the social networking sites. Even with no profile, details about you are still available on the Internet. School files, property ownership, arrest details, and other information is available. It is better to cultivate your image rather than ignore the computer and hide out.

Low profile

It is possible to maintain a low profile by feeding just enough information to people for the image you want to project online. A low profile is good for anyone who is not trying to promote a business and just wants to maintain connections with friends and family. A low profile would include joining a social media site, posting a few pictures, putting up information on your page, and then leaving it alone. It does not require constant checking and updating of information. It lets your family and friends know that you exist and you are available for them to reach out to with the methods they use. It also shows you are not afraid to use technology. A smart, low-profile image will hide phone numbers, birth dates, and other information that can lead to a stolen identity and reveal just enough to people to let them know you exist.

High profile

Tweeting their every thought, high-profile people like the attention they get from others. They post pictures and videos daily, all day. The high-profile person may be doing this to cultivate a business, which grow through marketing. Social media has become the way to market small and large businesses. However, be careful how much content you troll in this manner. Everything going into a social networking site becomes that site’s property. Your pictures, your sayings, your motivational posts and notes. It now belongs to them. The smart social network business strategists will learn the ins and outs of the social networking system they choose to use, then exploit that site. Posting phone numbers and emails related to the business are important ways for others to make contact. Just make sure those contacts are used for business and not personal reasons.

Social networking provides information on who you are, where you are, how you are, and what you are about. Employers use it when they are looking for information about you. The government is always watching. Hackers pull information from your profile. And friends and family stay connected. It’s important to remember that the information available may not always be used in the way you intended. Carefully cultivate your online image by releasing relevant information that can help, not hinder, your life.

Angelic Jones is a freelance writer for Austin Weekly News.

Angelic Jones

I am a native Chicagoan with a love for my city. I was born on the South Side. I am most interested in health and living. I attended University of Phoenix for a Masters in Health Administration and a Masters...