Maintaining Privacy While Living in a Digital Fishbowl

“When you put something out there, anyone can see it – from a future job interviewer to an internet creep.”

This was what the title character on the ABC drama “Castle” said to his daughter in a recent episode upon discovering a video blog in which she was sharing personal details about her life. Richard Castle, played by actor Nathan Fillion, was distraught over his 18-year-old daughter’s over-sharing, worried that any number of miscreants could use details she posts online to do her harm.

When he explained this to her and added that he didn’t want something she posted on a whim to haunt her years later, she showed a fractured appreciation of the topic of online privacy.

“My generation grew up in a digital fishbowl,” she said. “No matter how careful we are stuff will get out there. Friends will tag me in photos, inevitably doing something stupid. Why should that define me?”

Yes, she did indeed grow up in a digital fishbowl. However, acknowledging that fact and then throwing her hands in the air and saying there’s nothing she can do about it is a cop out. There are a number of things one can do to safeguard their digital reputation. For starters, read the terms and conditions of online services and websites you use and make sure you spend enough time customizing the privacy settings (60 minutes per site is a good rule of thumb).

While Castle’s mother points out that he was wild in his day, he correctly responds that his day is not today. There was no Facebook or Twitter 20 years ago. Both older and younger generations must accept responsibility for their online reputation management.

For parents, it’s about protecting their children. But, for business owners, it’s about safeguarding an enterprise they’ve worked their whole lives to build. Employees are a reflection on the companies they work for, and when their digital reputations are tarnished, that can and likely will come back to haunt the business.

When we put something out there on the internet, it’s out there. Putting the genie back in the bottle afterward is no simple task.

John Sileo is an online privacy expert and keynote speaker on social media privacy, identity theft and fraud. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent work on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.