EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - In the age of social media, is anything really private anymore?
As we talk about protecting your digital privacy this week, the short answer is no. It's a lesson one local mom and teacher learned the hard way when a picture of her three daughters popped up on a mommy blog she’s never heard of.
Amber Gieseking of Edwardsville has a lot to be proud of. Her three girls are her pride and joy and she loves to share that with her friends and family on Facebook.
Gieseking said, "As a proud mom of my girls, I love for people to see them, you know the pictures in our lives."
But a recent experience opened her eyes to just how public these social sites really are.
"After it happened to me I thought, well duh Amber. Everything is just so quickly accessible to everyone," she explained.
Gieseking was alerted by a friend that her daughters photo was on a mom blog.
"She had screenshot a picture of an email she had gotten from a mom’s group up in Springfield, Illinois," she explained.
The screenshot was of her three girls. Her Facebook cover photo was on a newsletter she's never heard of.
"Oh, kind of like oh those are my girls. Then I thought, wait a minute, I don't know who this group is. How did they get my picture? I was just very confused,” she said.
Her confusion quickly turned to frustration.
"It feels a little bit like a breach of privacy," she explained.
She contacted the company and found out how it happened.
"It came to be that the graphic designer was a Facebook friend of mine and had used my daughters picture without my knowledge for their online newsletter," she said.
It was a wake-up call for Gieseking. She’s a middle school teacher in Alton, Illinois and talks to her students about this sort of thing all the time.
"Once it’s out there, you can't take it back," she said.
It's a lesson that's taught her nothing is private online.
She said, "you have to think about who do you want seeing this. Who can be allowed to see it and if you’re okay with that."
So what can you do to protect yourself? Our partners at USA Today compiled a list of simple security measures you can take now to help keep your social life private.
1. Set strict privacy settings: Every social media site has an option to tighten your privacy in the settings section.
2. Never tag or post your specific location: While it may be fun to show your social base where you are and what you’re doing, you could be putting yourself at risk.
3. Be skeptical of who you accept as a friend: Don’t just add everyone who requests you. Be harsher on who you let into your personal life. Do you trust these people? You always have the option to unfriend, unfollow or un-connect.
4. Always log out of your social media: Anytime you leave your accounts open, you’re giving someone else the opportunity to view and use your personal information.
5. Strong passwords: Passwords are one of the keys to stopping people from getting into your private accounts, so be sure to make them effective.