The Internet is not Private

We’ve all seen the stories about the intern busted by Facebook. We laughed at it, but did we stop to consider how traceable what we post on forums and blogs?
A recent incident on a forum where I’m a member has caused people to question their openness in an Internet community. In the incident that sparks this post, an individual made the mistake of using their real name as a screen name and posted personal information (home town and what type of business they are in – real estate). They then often said derogatory things about their manager and co-workers.
It became a simple matter for someone to find the company they work for. It took one Google query for first-name last name, state and “real estate”. Real Estate offices tend to list everyone working in a office along with posting pictures, job title and contact information. It was all too easy for someone to track down her boss and share “private” discourse. Or it could have happened the other way, people in her office learned of the discussion forum and found the thread.
So what do you do about this? I guess the first thing not to say things in private that you haven’t said to someones face first. While there is blowing off steam, doing so online in a large forum is more likely to get you in trouble than talking to your friends at the bar after work.
I would tend to use a screen name and try to avoid connecting it with real name. That becomes very hard though. People can and do screw that up.