Social Networking Safety

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and other social networks have become an integral part of online lives. Social networks are a great way to stay connected with others, but you should be wary about how much personal information you post and the control you realistically have over who sees that information.

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An abuser can use social networks to stalk, harass and gain information about a former or current partner:

  • Most social networks do not show records of who looks at your page when, which parts of your page, for how long, etc., therefore it is possible for someone to monitor your page without your knowledge.
  • An abuser may impersonate a victim with a new page or by hijacking the victim’s page.
  • Abusers may “friend”/“follow” their victim’s friends and family and gain at least some level of access to personal information.
  • An abuser may be able to find a partner or former partner’s profile and/or other information through search engines.
  • Abusers may set up a secondary false profile to gain access to victim’s information, by friending them, setting up events or pages that interest them, etc.
  • Abusers may use social networking to slander their victim, to friends, family, employers, etc. They may lie about events that have occurred, or indirectly threaten the victim with cryptic but public messages.
  • Predators may also use false profiles/information on social networking sites to lure victims.

Tips for Staying Safe on Social Media:

  • Privacy and security settings exist for a reason: Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way. Default privacy settings are constantly changing, periodically check your settings to ensure your safety.
  • Keep informed: Social media sites are constantly updating/changing their privacy policies, be sure you’re aware of the site’s current policy. Search yourself, on Google and/or other search engines, to see what results are publically accessible about you. On Facebook, periodically view ‘Photos of Me’ to see what is there.
  • Once posted, always posted: Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Even after deletion, there is no guarantee where your information still exists once you post it online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see. Recent research found that 70% of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online.
  • Your online reputation can be a good thing: Recent research also found that recruiters respond to a strong, positive personal brand online. So show your smarts, thoughtfulness, and mastery of the environment.
  • Keep personal info personal: Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes such as stalking.
  • Know and manage your ‘friends’: Social networks can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of the fun is creating a large pool of friends from many aspects of your life. That doesn’t mean all friends are created equal. Use tools to manage the information you share with friends in different groups or even have multiple online pages.
  • Visit icanstalku.com: This site provides valuable information about privacy settings around photos and how to disable Geotagging on smartphones.
  • Talk to your kids about all internet use: This includes monitoring their use of major social networking sites and setting boundaries for which accounts they can set-up and use. Be firm in discipline surrounding use of technology, denying them access when the rules are broken.
  • Be honest if you’re uncomfortable: If a friend posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or you think is inappropriate, let them know. Likewise, stay open-minded if a friend approaches you because something you’ve posted makes him or her uncomfortable. People have different tolerances for how much the world knows about them respect those differences.
  • Know what action to take: If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them, and report them to the site administrator. Document instances of abuse, and be vigilant about your online safety!*

 

*Adapted from http://www.staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/protect-your-personal-information/social-networks#sthash.wbNOsqxC.dpuf and http://www.caring-unlimited.org/what-is-domestic-violence/for-victims-and-survivors/saftey-planning/social-networking-risks-privacy-and-safety-planning