Tuesday, January 6, 2015

On the Subject of Internet Safety

I’ve been on the Internet seriously for about five years now.

Sure, when I was in fourth grade there was nothing as cool as Club Penguin, and I had various games to play on the Internet. But when I was in seventh grade I found what I thought was the epitome of Internet conversation: The STACKS, an online forum for kids.

I liked The 39 Clues Board most of all, which was moderated by someone named Jen B (who we trolled more than she deserved) and I thought it was the epitome of safe fun. She moderated all our threads, so that no one could share personal information about location, or names, or outside sites, or photos. Pure discussion. It was awesome.

Until it wasn’t. Somehow, the concept of wikia slipped past her radar, and I met a friend on another site. And another site. We ended up making our own forum, which exploded with old friends as we came up with inventive ways to get ideas past Mod Jen B’s radar.

I’ve got to say, it turns out I can be pretty creative when I want to break the rules.

Five years later, we have gone from site to site to the point that some of us have exchanged phone numbers, and are friends on Facebook, and follow each other on Twitter, and Skype sometimes. We are very cozy in our relationship—this is five years of subterfuge and shared creativity that binds us together.

I love it.

But here is my problem: what about other people?

Flickr Credit: Cory Doctorow
It recently occurred to me that I’m not really a kid anymore. I mean, by all means, I’m inexperienced and green and rely on my parents quite a bit and really need a lot more practice at being alive.

And at the same time I’m also old enough to order stuff from 1-800 numbers on TV and vote and get a hotel room and sign off on my own self when I want to donate blood and that sort of thing. There are a lot of privileges out there I’m able to take advantage of, and that means a lot of responsibilities.

This includes Internet safety—and as a blogger this kind of concerns me.

Obviously, things like your address and your social security number are not the kind of thing you put on the Internet.

But what about my face?

It’s not a good idea for a twelve year old, but what about me? I follow other people’s blogs, and they put their faces out for the world to see, and they’re just fine.

Or my last name? Or my Twitter account? Or my Pinterest account? Tumblr? Facebook?

There’s a lot of social media platforms, but I’ve spent these last five years being diligent about my Internet security and only sharing my information with a very select few. A blog goes to everyone—and I like that. The social aspect of blogging is more fun than I had ever originally realized.

But will I endanger myself by having too much fun?

I’m looking at different suggestions for Internet safety for kids, here and here and here (I especially like the FBI’s suggestions) and I realize that I don’t fit that profile anymore. I’m old enough that it doesn’t pertain—and it’s possible I know more about some aspects of Internet safety than my parents.

But I look at Internet safety for adults—and I don’t know what to do with that, either. Some say not to publicize my religion, but I immensely enjoy my religion and wanna talk about it. A lot of others are just focusing on the technical aspect: don’t download stuff from shady people and don’t share your credit card number with shady people and avoid shady people on dating sites. Shadiness is pretty bad.

And then, if I’m an adult I’m automatically a parent and it’s all about things I can do to protect other people—I’ve never even been on a date and they already expect me to be dealing with sexual predators with my thirteen-year-old. Geez.

So I Googled “internet safety for bloggers.” And I need a password, and I should be selective with whom I share, and I should moderate comments.

I’VE BEEN FIGHTING AGAINST MODERATED COMMENTS FOR YEARS.

This is what I know: there is no set equation for late-teen/new-adult bloggers who aren’t sure if it’s okay to share their faces or their Twitter accounts or their names on their blogs and go through life unstalked.

And, I think I will have to do what I did five years ago, when I just got started with this Internet business: figure it out myself.

I HAVE QUESTIONS. Do you think it’s okay to promote personal accounts on your blog? What about your face or your name? Is there anything you’d avoid sharing on your blog? Have you run into any trouble sharing anything before? 


(Seriously though, plea for help right here.)

16 comments :

  1. I think as long as you're mature enough to know the risks, you're fine, if that makes sense. I was very hesitant before I started a blog, and a Pinterest account, and a Twitter, and all of that. I think being on the lookout and knowing what to avoid is very important, and if you can do that, you're going to be mostly fine. I'm fine with my name and my face and some things about me now, because I am trying to get my name out there for writing purposes. But I wouldn't go around handing out my address (or even my general location, in most places) or my phone number or anything like that.

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    1. *nods* Those are definitely good things to think about. I'd like to think I'm already vigilant about my Internet safety but it sounds like I might have to be a little more so just to be careful. I also wouldn't mind being published someday, so a name and face seem pretty reasonable, although other things not so much. Thanks for your input!

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  2. I (try to) keep my personal life separate from my blogging one. I have shared my name with the people I work closely with (we have a group chat), but pictures have always been difficult for me.
    All my face, half my face, just my back? I just go on instinct.
    I guess if you are always on the lookout, and you block anyone who is trouble, your are safer. I have never gone further than to share that I live in the North Island of New Zealand. And I have never shared my phone number.
    Lately, I have had a few problems with spam comments on my blog, so I'm glad I moderate!
    But like Aimee, I have started to think about putting my real name out for writing purposes.
    It's a juggling act!

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    1. *nods* My personal Facebook I'm definitely going to keep to myself, as well as a few other personal accounts, but I can definitely agree that pictures are tricky. I just changed my Twitter account to my face, for example, which is tricky, but it's not a problem for me. Still, I suppose if you're recognized it's going to be a problem.
      Phone numbers are definitely not public property, or location. Most of the time I don't mind sharing my state, just because it's pretty big, but I think my location is a little bit off the handle sometimes.
      As to spam—really? I've had a little spam before, but a more recurring problem is that it treats legitimate comments (as in, people I know) as spam, which is bothersome.
      Anyway, thanks for your input! :) I love hearing extra opinions on this.

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  3. Hmm, I use a pseudonym, so it's pretty easy to separate my real life and online persona. Which means I have a set of separate emails, I don't announce my exact address, I don't have photos of my face connected to this email. I'm happy with that!

    P.S. I don't moderate comments, mainly because I read all of them immediately anyways and take any necessary action.

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    1. *nods* I suspected you use a pseudonym, and I know that works really well for some people. I have my own reasons for not doing that, but I'm glad it works for you!

      And, I agree. I mean, I don't understand bloggers who don't read their comments. I LOVE READING WHAT PEOPLE SAY. How can they ignore the suspense? I don't know.

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  4. I take Internet safety pretty seriously, although I think a lot of it is a gray area. I try to limit my social media and for now I'm not really on "update" sites like Twitter or Facebook for privacy. I also use a pen name, and as you know, my face is covered by a book in my profile picture. That said, like a lot of the other commenters, I have considered revealing my true name and my face if I become a published author because that would be useful for marketing purposes. And I never post my address, phone number, etc.

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    1. It's definitely gray, and social media can definitely make that even blurrier. But yes, revealing name and face for writing purposes sounds like a decent idea—and of course, we have to keep some stuff to ourselves, just to be on the save (and private) side!

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  5. What an interesting post! Internet safety is something that I've thought a lot about too as a blogger. Personally, I don't show my face. However, I see nothing wrong with it, as I am an adult. I think I'll probably end up posting a picture of me (with my face), but for a long time I was afraid of it.

    I also try to keep the mindset that if someone really wants my information, they're probably going to be able to find it one way or another. I just have to trust that God will protect me (and that nobody every wants to hunt me down, haha!).

    It's such a gray area, but super important to discuss.

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    1. I like that you were able to be encouraging and cautious at the same time. :) I've been kind of nervous about posting my face as well, but I think there's also a little something about showing your face: technically, it doesn't share a lot about you. It's what you say that brings the real danger.

      But, that's true as well. In this day and age you can get a hold of anybody, and definitely, God is still the authority in every situation. XD I also think that sometimes people struggle with personal information issues when they have certain insecurities or ignorances, and in that regard I hope I'm decently educated.

      Thanks for adding your two cents! :)

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  6. Well, I don't have my face or real name on my blogger- and I definitely want to keep the anonymity. I mean, if someone who actually knows me personally reads this blog, they'd recognize me and I'm okay with that. I just don't want random people to connect Catalina on blogger with the "Catalina" in real life- so pseudonyms and no pictures helps with that ^^.
    And since I've prevented people from accessing my name and face, I think location is okay.

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    1. *nods* That's very attentive of you, and I can definitely see why avoiding name and face would be important for that reason. :) They're certainly interesting thoughts to consider!

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  7. I think people can get too hung up on this kind of stuff. Obviously I haven't had any bad experiences but I HAVE read bad experiences. I don't know....>.> I actually like seeing bloggers faces and knowing things about them because it's nice to know who your friends are, right?!
    My problem is, I actually run a business and an etsy store, so seriously, if some axe murderer wanted to find my address, it wouldn't be too hard. Just buy something from me. *gulps*
    But seriously? I hardly think that's an issue or ever going to happen.

    I think do what makes you comfortable, be smart and wise and consider your decisions. *shrugs* It's each to their own. But I DO hate moderated comments, lol. And I get frustrated when people are just a screen name and nothing else. It makes it hard to make friends, you know?

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    1. I definitely agree—people can have bad Internet run-ins but I think we add a human element by being able to show faces, and that kind of thing. I think we also kind of work under the assumption that people are mostly good people. I mean, when I buy someone and get a stranger's address I certainly don't keep it, much less use it to hunt someone down. :P But like you said, it's not really the biggest issue out there.

      But this is a great encourager, and I will definitely not moderate comments and I definitely will work on other stuff to be coolio. :)

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  8. I blog about my life in comics on my blog but I blog under an alias Neal Kind.I never mix up any of my personal accounts with the blogging ones.Even my instagram is private.This might sound sexist but girls are targeted more than the boys are.I'm not saying anything against girls just that people who target others are pervs.Although I wouldn't mind joining my two accounts publicly when I'm comfortable enough or to someone I've made friends and know about them in the first place.
    PS : I realized I might have forgotten to share your link in fan month,so found this post in your archive :)

    Neal Kind
    Daily Diaries

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    1. *nods* And you're not alone keeping online life and real life separate, there! Which is fine.

      Also, if you were curious, sexism is typically interpreted as a harsh or inaccurate stereotype about gender, rather than a statistical fact—and yeah, girls are more likely to get targeted than others. But, I also think that it may require a little more online-finesse, and obviously, not everyone is, and we can be affected by other people being careless with our own information! So, it's not a bad idea.

      But, thanks for scouring the archives. :)

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