Even though hosted instant messaging programs seem to be safer on the surface, it does not guarantee that online communication is not completely safe. No type of communication really is. As long as there are people out there looking to exploit others, then there are also others out there that are going to be victims.
Unsafe online communication can come in forms other than what is traditionally thought of as dangerous. It can include bullying or using information that is obtained during instant messaging conversations to blackmail a co-worker or acquaintance.
No matter where you are using instant messaging (whether it is hosted or not), it is crucial to always pay attention to what you are saying. Do not trash your company, other co-workers, or pass on gossip that may not be true. This may come back to bite you, as some companies that have hosted messaging programs also have the ability to view, read, and monitor their users’ conversations.
The bottom line is, do not write anything online that can come back to bite you! This is the cardinal rule of online communication. Instant messaging, e-mails, blogs, and anything else that you write online that can be traced back to you is important to your online image. Co-workers, bosses, and anyone else can find these electronic records. And if they are demeaning, malicious, or negative, it can affect your job, relationships, and lifestyle. Always be careful and remember, if it was written about you, how would you feel?