The problem is that we
put all that stuff out there and there’s so much sophisticated
data-mining going on, that we really don’t know what the end use of all
our information is going to be. Not only have we spawned a whole new
segment of business whose main asset is information – personal
information and preferences, yours and mine – we’re also bending over
backwards to make stalking and harassing us easier.
Okay, now let’s bring things a little
closer to home. Think about that person you cheesed off by turning them
down for a date. Or the random weird stalker people who make fake
profiles just for kicks? If you’re feeling a touch uncomfortable now,
let me add a teeny bit of fuel to the fire. Have you ever stopped to
think about how saving a picture you upload is just a click or two away
for anyone? That’s perfectly fine when all you put up is cat pictures,
but what about those selfies? Consider the widespread use of Photoshop
and the possibilities are alarming.
So now that
we’ve covered the ‘why’s, here are some tips on how to stay safe:
Abstinence is always safest.
If in doubt, don’t do it. Uploading evidence of that crazy night out can
wait until after it’s over and your judgment is back to normal. So can
rage messages, angry comments and rants about your good-for-nothing
Don’t click on weird links,
or use apps that are less than reliable, the ‘Find out who checked your
profile’ ones among them – you’re just asking for trouble. Oh, and
here’s a good one – add people who actually are your friends, it’s not
rude to reject requests if you don’t know the person.
Use the protection you
Please pick a password that
isn’t your cat’s name. And please, please, keep it to yourself. You may
love someone OMG5eva!!! but keep it in your head. In addition, Facebook
has a surprising number of backups that nobody (or very few) bothers to
use. Have a look at this handy infographic, which apart from Facebook’s
bragging about how safe they’re keeping you, shows some of the options
you could use if you haven’t already. Privacy policies and terms of
service for social networks do change from time to time, so keep abreast
of changes. For Facebookit’s https://www.facebook.com/fbsitegovernance
Limit your audience.
Facebook privacy has come
under fire frequently, but that’s no excuse to not use the options you
do have. The default setting is public, so do go through your privacy
settings to make sure the people seeing your information are the ones
you want to include.
want your contact information visible to all and sundry? You can hide
it, you know.
Select ‘No’ in response to ‘Do you want other search engines to link to
your timeline?’ under ‘Who can look me up?’ to limit Google stalking.
Keep in mind that not only do your apps collect information, your
friends may be unwittingly sharing your information too… ‘Apps others
use’ which you’ll find in the ‘Apps’ section under privacy settings
gives you a chance to control some of what is shared.
Speaking of friends, it’s easy to forget who you’ve added over the
years, and you might be hanging on to people you’ve actually fallen out
with. Why give them ammo? Once in a while, evaluate who you keep on your
friends list, get rid of the dregs and make the ones who make the cut
those who remain, switching on the timeline review option under
‘Timeline and Tagging’ lets you filter what goes on your timeline after
your friends tag you, from unflattering photos to incriminating
check-ins and you can choose to make post visible only to certain groups
Also review the ‘Activity Log’ occasionally, just to make sure things
are the way you want them. There are quite a few other options, go
through each of them no matter how boring it may seem – this is your
life you’re putting out there for everyone (creeps included) to see. And
if you don’t want real-life creeps following you around, watch where you
check in – otherwise you may as well give ‘em directions.
and dispose. We add lots of apps which we never use after. Check
that you’re not harbouring a bunch of unnecessary apps and giving them
access to your information. ‘Apps’ lets you pick and choose which to get
Don’t mix work and play. When you’re signing up with a social
network, use your personal email not your work email, and make sure only
you have access to it (see Use protection)
Report abuse. Always be aware that you don’t have to be polite if
someone is making you uncomfortable. Warn them, and if they continue,
block away! Think of your needs first and don’t engage bullies or
trolls, they like the attention. If someone is harassing you or creating
fake profiles, do report it to Facebook, and for local intervention
contact SL CERT -(Tel: +94 11 269 1692 / 269 5749 / 267 9888) or http://www.cert.gov.lk
A moment’s indiscretion can have lasting effects. The internet never
forgets – you may think you’ve deleted or taken down a post, but it
could easily have been saved, copied, or cached; believe me when I say
it will come back to haunt you.
Take a minute
or two to shore up your online defenses. After all, you wouldn’t walk
around naked in real life. Or would you?
By Sharon Dinasha
Sharon has a passion for words and how they can be used
to educate and entertain. When she's not being reclusive, she can be
found being an emcee, a writer and a trainer. On twitter at @sharond_s
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