Many patients and their family members appreciate social media for the community support they provide and because they serve as a central hub for dispensing updates on treatments, etc. If you wish to use an online network for these purposes, we recommend sites like CaringBridge.org and MyLifeLine.org which are designed specifically for patients going through cancer treatment.
We make this recommendation because the privacy policies on both these sites are far less complicated than those of other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter - and they change less frequently. This way, you can share information about your diagnosis with only the people you choose, and keep it private from a Google search and a current or potential employer.
However, it is still important to know that the information you post to these sites is not automatically 100% protected. It’s essential to take additional steps to ensure that your profile is as secure as you would like it to be.
Both CaringBridge.org and MyLifeLine.org offer three levels of privacy protection. It's easy to access these settings once you've signed into your profile. The titles given to the each security level vary between the two sites, but they work in similar ways:
- The lowest level of privacy allows anyone to view the information posted and/or search for you by name.
- The mid-level privacy protection requires visitors to sign into a virtual guest book in order to view the site. (On CaringBridge this level also offers the ability to restrict a specific person’s access.)
- The highest level of security requires guest to be pre-approved in order to view and/or post information.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how private or public you want your cancer story to be. Once you've chosen your desired settings it’s always a good idea to have a trusted friend or family member check your profile from a different computer or browser to make sure it is exactly as secure as you would like it to be.
You can read more about building and protecting your online image here.