It’s not uncommon to hear someone say that the Internet is forever. Many people believe that even if you delete content, it is still present somewhere in the vastness of the Internet. However, very few reputable sources claim that the Internet itself keeps your photos, posts and Tweets without your own permission. This permission is often granted through a Privacy Policy agreement. Also, a friend may save or share your post. They may also give social media platforms permission to keep your post, depending upon their own privacy settings. Yes, the Internet can be forever — if you don’t take precautions and understand how to use the Internet safely. Here are five things to consider when it comes to your information on the Internet.

If it’s public, it really is public.

Privacy Settings are there for a reason. According to Facebook’s Privacy Policy, Privacy Settings protect you from creepy creepers and keep them from sharing your information with the public. If your account is set to private, then only people you add as friends will be able to see the content you’ve posted. Even if your own account is private, if you comment on a public article or account, that information will be public and searchable. If you are tagged in material, users who aren’t on your friends list may be able to see it. However, another Facebook setting allows you to approve any tagged material before it is posted on your timeline or in public.

If you don’t delete it, it will continue to exist.

This is pretty straightforward. Even if you stop using a blog or a social media app, your content will continue to exist online unless you delete it. Many sites will even retain information for a set period of time after an account has been deleted. For instance, Facebook will keep a account’s information for 90 days after it has been deleted. After that period, the company will delete the information unless there are legal reasons not to.

If someone saves it, it won’t be deleted.

If you delete a post — or even the social media account you used to make the post — there is still a possibility of it existing on the Internet. People can either take a screenshot, take a photograph of the post/account. They may also use an app to save the information. Snapchat users, for example, often send content through the app, thinking that it’ll be deleted after the recipient opens it. However, users can save other users’ Snaps and allow them to live perpetually on the Internet.

What Can You Do?

The best precaution to take? Think before you post. Even with every possible protective filter, there is no guarantee that those who view your post have your best interests in mind. If you’re keeping a blog, make sure that you don’t reveal sensitive, personal and identifying information. Make sure your account settings are as private as possible. Also, don’t be afraid to Google yourself! This will show you what is publicly out there on the Internet —  and what could come back to haunt you.

By Elizabeth Slatsky


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