Just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it's not there.
Students at Monte Vista High School in Danville got a lesson in that axiom during an educational presentation last Thursday. McAfee Security teamed up with Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom to teach hundreds of teenagers that their online presence will be around long after their current Facebook feed is gone.
"When you live in this world of hyper-connectivity, you live in a fishbowl in a glass neighborhood. What you do in private ultimately becomes public and you leave digital breadcrumbs everywhere you go. Your fingerprints exist in perpetuity," Newsom said. "That digital footprint is with you for the rest of your life, so your decisions have consequences."
Newsom said the theater of students are "digital native," those who have grown up in the tech era and have a keen understanding of its language. These natives are doing "reverse mentoring," Newsom said, and are the first generation to be expert in something their parents are not.
"You have a unique perspective: you are the generation that will be leading what will arguably be one of the biggest changes in the history of mankind. With that goes responsibility, you're gonna have to grow up with some rules," McAfee President Mike DeCesare said.
Because parents aren't going to be a great source of safety information, McAfee, a father of Monte Vista twins, provided students with practical information to avoid the pitfalls of social media mishaps.
Students -- and social media savvy adults -- should be careful not to overshare and understand the information they publish on various networks. Seventy-five percent of colleges now request that applicants open their Facebook history while 24 percent of employers have the same requirements.
"You have to ask yourself, is there anything you've ever done on Facebook that you might not want to be a part of that process," DeCesare said.
DeCesare cautioned students about having too many friends on their social networks. Privacy settings on most sites allow equal access to all friends, which could give unwanted information to hackers, spammers or burglars.
"Friends have same level of access to just about everything you do in the digital world. If you post a picture of you at school, now everybody knows what high school you go to, they've narrowed you down in the universe," he said. "If you combine having too many friends that are out there with what information you share, you start to realize that it becomes pretty important to control."
Those social media users inclined to geotag -- tagging their location in photos or "checking in" to a variety of locations -- can spread sensitive information about location to an audience that doesn't need to know. If you tag yourself as on vacation in one post, then tag yourself in a school photo, a criminal can easily figure out where your house is in relation to school and where you're not -- at your home.
"You're all sharing info so freely and it might seem great because you have 10 best friends and you want to know where they are. It's not those 10 we're taking about, it's the other 1,900 (friends) we're worried about," DeCesare said.
The computer security professional also cautioned his audience to watch for unusual links(phishing) and vary their passwords between sites, making sure to not use easily discernible information such as sibling names or street addresses. Additionally, computer users should cover their webcams when not in use to prevent hackers from logging into their cameras and watching.
All Internet users should be careful while searching because certain common searches, such as images of Emma Watson and Selena Gomez, have a much higher likelihood of hiding malware. DeCesare also cautioned against using browser Internet Explorer, which hosts 80 percent of the world's hacks because of it's common usage.
"I'm not trying to scare you guys, I'm trying to make sure you understand that you have a responsibility. Just like everything else, you have to understand that there are some rules and some good hygiene about being online," he said.
After hearing DeCesare and Newsom's presentation sophomore Sabira Toor said she was going to be more careful with her Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts.
"I thought it was pretty interesting how easy it is to get access to all of the social media, because I didn't know how easy it was for people to get into all of your accounts," she said. "I'm definitely going to change my passwords because it's all the same."
Senior Austen Gasparro saw a similar presentation last year and said that while he is "a tech guy," he hasn't changed any of his behaviors. Austen plans to go to ITT Tech and enjoyed hearing perspective from both speakers.
"It's interesting because you can see the politician aspect of how they believe technology is being used and who it can benefit the future," he said. " It was interesting to see that there was not only the business side of McAfee but you could see the political side of Newsom."
Last Thursday's presentation was part of a national day of education, where McAfee employees educated approximately 20,000 kids around the globe in online safety.