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There’s an old saying that the three quickest ways to spread news are telephone, television, and tell a friend. Of course that saying predates the internet by about four decades, and now there’s really no hope for keeping a secret. In fact, there are so many ways to ruin a secret online that we’re going to share a list. It’s what we do, after all. Here are 10 ways that secrets told online don’t stay secret:

  1. Shared Computer – One of the most common ways to compromise confidential info is when a computer or terminal has multiple users. Strong password protection and a screen-saver time-out setting are keys to safeguarding your secrets.
  2. Joint Accounts – As in the above scenario, you share access with another user. Email, social network, or blog access for someone other than you means your secrets are not your own. You may want to look into creating an independent account.
  3. Privacy Settings – It is not uncommon for social network users to leave their privacy settings open for non-friends to see their messages. This won’t jeopardize the really secret stuff you share only via private messaging, but it can give other users access to your Facebook wall, where they can get info you may not want just anyone to see.
  4. Mobile Hackers – We’ve all seen examples of celebrity accounts being hacked in order to gain access to private date and photos. It can be done to just about anyone’s mobile device, so use adequate security and privacy settings on your browser and wireless network.
  5. Screenshots – Remember, deleting a comment or an update doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. You never know who may be saving something you wish you hadn’t shared. Screenshots are a common way for information to say live forever.
  6. Skype – A 21st century version of the aforementioned telephone, Skype can dish your dirt worldwide in a heartbeat. Mind who you’re sharing your business with, girlfriend. And watch out what is going on behind you. It’s not a blank screen.
  7. Hijacked Accounts – It’s rare, but it does happen. Social media and email servers provide multiple layers of security, but it’s a cat-and-mouse game that even the best measures only keep you one step ahead of the hackers. Change your passwords often, and make them strong. By the way …
  8. Compromised Password – Many people choose passwords that are easy for them to remember, making them easy to decode in the process. Don’t use obvious number sequences like birth dates and anniversaries. Use a mix of special characters, numerals, large and small case letters, with a minimum of 8 total characters.
  9. Friend of a Friend of a Friend … – Social networks like Facebook have a way of expanding beyond what you may be comfortable with, before you know it. Often times, users will gain access to others’ profiles by friending their way in, one layer at a time. Choose your friends carefully. It’s your network, after all.
  10. Unfriending Friends – You may have justification in deleting someone from your circle of friends; but that doesn’t mean they will keep your secrets, secret. Remember, once it’s out there on the web, it’s out there for keeps. So keep that in mind before spilling your beans online.

Always remember that what you put online stays online. Forever. So think before you post anything, even if it is marked private. It is hard to argue that you kept a secret when it is typed out in black and white for the world to see.