Nine Important Things to Keep in Mind...
1. The Internet does not have a Delete key. Whatever you do...plan on it being around forever. Before you post that picture of yourself wearing your underwear and dancing with a beer at a drunken party, think about a potential date seeing that picture ten months from now after you've dropped 15 pounds. Or the look on the face of that guy in the suit and tie, you know, the one who interviewed you for a job last week. Is he throwing your resume in the trash? Uh huh.
2. Stop to think about your privacy. Do you really want the whole world to know where you live? Go to school? Work? Don't care about the whole world? Fine, neither do I most of the time. What about that girl who was stalking you last semester, or that creepy dude in the club. Keep in mind that “the whole world” includes some people you might not want anything to do with. It's okay to set boundaries. There are no requirements to disclose every little detail about yourself. Consider raising your security and privacy settings so only friends can see your profile.
3. Don't trust someone automatically. Unfortunately people are not always who or what they say they are.
4. Be yourself. Don't pretend to be something or someone you're not.
5. Get involved. Respond to posts and blogs, discuss, converse, make friends, join groups.
6. Be smart. Go back to number 1. Use correct spelling and grammar, be polite, respectful, mature. Avoid leaving insipid or stupid comments, don't engage in flame wars, and don't upload that angst-ridden post full of CAPS and swearing. If you want people to know how smart, sophisticated, and intelligent you are, then act that way. Be reasonable and people will take you seriously. Be angsty and vulgar and people will dismiss you.
7. It's yours. If you post it, comment on it, upload it, share it...it's yours, or it should be. Don't do it if it's not yours unless you have permission.
8. The world is watching. Your mom and dad, your future spouse, the mother of your children, your boss, your future boss, the people you might ask to vote for you one day, the judge you might argue before in the courtroom, the person on whom you'll perform a bypass. I know I'm repeating myself, but this is really important. With Google Cache, everything lasts forever. Just ask yourself these two simple questions before you hit that button: Everyone? Forever? If the answer is Yes and Yes...go for it!
9. TU has some policies governing the use of social networking tools. You can find the policies here, and linked at the left. Be sure to familiarize yourself with them.