Many kids are aware of online dangers and know not to give personal information to someone they met online.  For instance, kids should never give phone numbers, full names, addresses and such to an online stranger – even if that online stranger seems to be a nice guy (they can be *very* tricky).  Even grownups with many years of “life experience” can be tricked by these guys (the bad guys can be very cunning and clever).  But what you may not know is that any personal information you give to someone you *do* know online can sometimes be obtained by strangers.  This means Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, and even your email or contact list can be obtained by people you do not know.

Google confirmed this week that they fired one of their workers because the employee was reading teenagers email, chat logs, and their private contact lists.  It was discovered that David Barksdale, who worked for Google in Kirkland, Washington, was reading teenagers private information and then teasing those teenagers about what he discovered.  Some of the information David was illegally reading was very private an embarrassing to the teenagers.  Since David was dumb enough to taunt the teenagers, he was easily caught when one of the teenager’s parents called Google and complained.

You should note that David Barksdale was caught because he openly bragged about what he had done (he taunted the teenagers). If he had kept quiet about it, he probably would have never been caught and could have used that information to hurt the teenagers.

Online information such as email, chat logs, Facebook posts (even private ones), Facebook private chats, Twitter tweets, and any other information that is transmitted or stored on the Internet, is accessible by employees of the company or bad guys that have broken into their online business and stolen that personal information.  There are even ways for a a bad guy to sit in a car and “sniff” the wireless signal from your house to capture your personal and private information.

You should always be careful about what you post or send online.  In addition, you should understand that something that might not be embarrassing to you now, could be embarrassing to you when you grow up and could even make it hard for you to find a good job (example: pictures that you know your parents would not be happy about).  Don’t just assume that things you put on the Internet can only be seen by the people you know.