Most everyone knows that there are dangers to posting photos, profiles and other personal information on the Internet. This is such a hazard because anyone who wishes can take a look at your personal information. In the wrong hands even the simplest clues to your identity can be stolen or worse, you can become the target of a physical attack. There is a whole new breed of online predators that did not exist ten or even five years ago. 63% of teens who have an online profile through MySpace believe that it would either be “pretty easy” or possible with some investigative work, for someone to find out exactly who they were from their profile.
So what are you to do if you do not want to avoid the Internet and MySpace completely? You must be smart about the information you post in order to keep you out of harm’s way. You learn how to be as safe as possible. Below are some generic suggestions for ways to post photos, and profiles while still keeping your identity safe
• Photos do the most harm when too much information is posted with them — A photo is relatively harmless when it stands alone. It is when we begin to post names and details about the pictures that we get into trouble. A potential predator has a lot more fuel for his fire if he can associate a face with an online entity. If the location of where the picture was taken is disclosed, even more clues are available for someone looking to do some harm. Really this situation can be completely avoided if you block your MySpace page from those that you do not know and you refrain from giving too many details. After all, won’t your friends already know who is in most of the pictures that you take? Why put them at risk by telling them what they already know?
• Profiles are not secret and should be treated as public record — The Internet gives many people a false sense of privacy. Unless you safeguard your information on your blogs and MySpace page, anyone can access them and use them to attack your reputation or security. Just because you may type something onto your webpage from the privacy of your home, does not mean that that information is only allowed to be accessed from your computer unless you set up a system that blocks others from viewing your work completely. Do not post any information that you would later regret disclosing. There are many instances when a bad choice to post something inappropriate has yielded serious consequences.
• Restrict access to your MySpace page — It can’t be said enough. If you don’t know someone, they should not be able to look at your personal information. Just like you were taught never to take candy from a stranger or to get into a stranger’s car, you should not be sharing sensitive information online by letting anyone look at your MySpace page. It is just common sense. Allow your friends to chat with you and to review the information on your page. If you are looking for social hookups, these are better left to extracurricular activities, dates with classmates and parties, not the Internet.
• Use an alias — Aliases can be viewed as both an advantage or disadvantage. Aliases online are disadvantages because you never really know who is lying and who is telling the truth. They can be a good thing because you can use an alias to protect your own identity and personal information. You can use whatever codes and fake names, ages, dates, towns, etc. that you want.