It is possible to keep yourself from being a target on MySpace, but it is also definitely a challenge. No one is 100% immune from danger even if they do everything right when it comes to exercising caution. Predators are learning new tricks, becoming more resourceful, and are catching on to the things that teens do to try to protect themselves. You need to do everything that you can to stay ahead of the game and keep yourself out of harm’s way.
Be careful about posting anything more than a first name and a snapshot.
When you first create your profile on MySpace you are asked to give a name, an email address and to upload a photo (among other things). This information in and of itself is not the most descriptive but even with nothing else you can be sent unwanted and inappropriate e-mails. Guard your information. Make sure that you block people who you do not know from viewing your MySpace profile.
Only chat with friends that you know personally
If your goal in starting a MySpace profile is to meet new people you are probably better off not even visiting the site if you want to keep yourself safe. The real danger in “meeting” people online is that you have no way of knowing who is and who is not telling the truth. On MySpace, you can post whatever pictures and information that you want. There is no verification process or screening that happens. Is it possible to find nice people online? Sure it is. But if you want to take that gamble it’s like playing a game of Russian Roulette and you never know when the odds will not be in your favor.
Never agree to meet with someone that you have never before met in person
A predator’s plan is to lure you away from the comfort and safety of home and private places and to get you to go somewhere where you will be vulnerable. If you are set on meeting someone that you were introduced to online, take some friends with you and make it a group date. Do not leave the safety of the group, and get to know the individual in person before ever allowing yourself to spend time with that person alone. Relationships take time and are worth that investment. Predators are looking for easy targets and will most likely lose interest if you are persistent in assuring that you never do anything that would take you away from a safe place.
Be suspicious about everything that you read
As was briefly mentioned before, you cannot believe everything that you read or see on a MySpace page. Really size people up and test them on their honesty. If their stories do not match up or you are otherwise suspicious of the integrity of the person you are communicating with, it is better to cease contact all together. Trust your feelings. If something feels strange, uncomfortable or out of place it probably is. Do not become too invested; at the first sign of danger be willing to get out of a potentially bad situation
Are you giving out clues that you aren’t even aware of?
Some people are not even aware that the information they are disclosing could be dangerous, not only to them, but to friends or family members as well. Posting a picture of a group of people and then giving first and last names, city of residence, school names, etc. puts your friends at risk. Just as you should safeguard your information and the information of your friends, it is wise to continually check your friends’ MySpace pages to ensure that they have not slipped and included information that could endanger you.