Mark Cuban on Protecting Your Online Identity

Mark Cuban is kind of a big deal. The entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks is on a new kick of late, encouraging people of all ages to take control of their online image. He is also putting his money where his mouth is, having invested, very publicly, in the privately held app companies Cyber Dust and Xpire.

cyber-dust-logoCyber Dust does what Snapchat should have done from the get go – allows users to send temporary messages that actually disappear permanently. Xpire is an app that connects to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, and makes posts on those networks disappear after a set period of time. The ideas behind both concepts are good ones, but we would like to note that most message and social media content is not at all risky, or worthy of being kept in the equivalent of a locked vault. Cuban did an interview with The Odyssey this month, and expanded on his views regarding privacy and online reputation. Let’s take a at what Cuban had to say:

“You are responsible for your own digital footprint. Your future, no matter what your age is, depends on your being able to know exactly what you have published online or in messages. Without control, you are at risk for anyone creating any image they want of you on social media or elsewhere.”

That is all true, and a great starting point for anyone thinking about his online identity – especially young users. Most adults have a healthy fear of foot in mouth disease, or saying something personally that could hurt their career. Few kids come with such a self-check mechanism.

“The minute you hit “send” on any SMS/Text, any Snap, Tweet or any digital media, you lose ownership of it. But you don’t lose responsibility for it. Your closest friend could mess with you and tweet one of your texts, and from there, it could take on a life of its own. It could cost you a job, a relationship or worse. You have no idea what could happen with any iMessage you send. It could come back to haunt you years later.”

Again, that is true. Even if your social media accounts are private, one of your “friends” can share or manipulate something you’ve written and take it totally out of context. When later viewed by someone else, that viewer is free to draw his own conclusions.

“So the question becomes why would you ever send a message or post something on social media knowing it could live on forever. Do you want the things you say as a freshman in college or while you were in high school being posted or reposted after you graduate and are looking for a job?”

There is no telling who you will be years from now, or what you’ll want to do with your life. A permanent record of you having tweeted, for example, “Great win by the #NYGiants this week” is hardly likely to come back and haunt you. Something mean-spirited or otherwise inappropriate could very well have a detrimental impact on your future reputation.

If you are worried about your or your kids’ online reputation, by all means check out Cyber Dust and Xpire. If you’ve got young internet users in your house, be sure to talk to them about the long term impact of what they put online or in electronic messages.



Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

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