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OK So Now What Do We DO About It? August 22, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology, Computers and Internet, Educational Ranting, General Ranting, News and politics, Science and Technology.
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Yesterday I began a diatribe on the dangers of the online community. I think it only fair then if I offer some advice about handling the perils of the cyber-world. There are many different strategies that can be effective. What I suggest is just a compilation of the most common and useful.

The first and foremost strategy is the universal mantra of any system of self-defense. Be Aware of your surroundings. You can’t go wrong if you pay attention. Are you on Facebook? There are certain ads or offers you need to avoid. Are you posting an image? Is it one you want your Gran’mother to see? Are you making a brilliant political observation on Twitter? Would you mind if your boss read it? Pay attention to where you are and what you are doing. You wouldn’t walk down a dark city street without looking around. Why should you do that on the Internet.

Rule Two says, “They don’t need to know everything about you.” Would you consider yourself a Facebook customer? Guess how Facebook considers you? You are INVENTORY. Just like those cheap plastic dish mats at Wal-Mart or the cheapie low budget DVD section at Hastings, YOU ARE PRODUCT. What are they selling you ask? Why, they are selling YOU. Your name, address, phone number, likes, interests, web browsing habits, shopping habits, spending habits, credit history is ALL for sale. One of the fastest growing industries today is data mining. Facebook is classified by the Federal Government as a data mining company, NOT a communications service. Every time you add a movie that you liked or enter your job or education level into your profile you are paying them. They take this information and sell it to people like Amazon or any other online marketing presence so that they know what to sell you. Have you not noticed that when you buy something on Amazon, the ads of Facebook immediately change to whatever it was you last bought. Advertising is being targeted at you based on your life. Search for something on Google and see if they don’t start targeting those items to you in the ads on Facebook or Twitter. Its a network. They are all connected and the sole purpose is to get you to spend money. As far as it goes, this is not a bad thing. However, if you are looking for a job and your prospective boss purchases information about you it can directly impact your chances. According to the Bureau of Nosy Statistics, 67% of employers have passed over a candidate THIS YEAR alone for information they obtained online without that party’s knowledge. The upside is that a like percentage of employers have hired people because they were impressed with their online presence. If you are posting pictures of your latest drunken spring break shenanigans in Mazatlan, which group do you think you will fall into?

One of the best ways to protect yourself is to present calculated disinformation to the machine. Make up a birthday, for example. A prospective employer finds your profile at MadamSpanksalotsFreakyFetish.com but because he can’t recognize you behind that rubber gas mask and the birthday is different from what is on your application they can not use that against you. Don’t fill out ANYTHING with your correct name, birthday, place of employment, religious affiliation, or other things that can impact a person’s opinion of you unless you are comfortable with the consequences. This is ESPECIALLY important for children and teens. Predators of all kinds search social media constantly for personal information that they can use to get an inside track on your children. People who know you in person will already know what your birthday is and will likely not send you a card anyhow. Internet people don’t NEED to know. They are not going to send you a card either. People you have been chatting with for three months are NOT your friends. Don’t tell them that you are “at the movies” or any other status like that. What you are really posting is “my house is empty, please come and steal my stuff.” This is especially bad if you have your address or home town posted as well. Would you take out an ad in the local paper saying “We are on vacation and won’t be back for a while? Why would you do that online where people actually READ the stuff?

Rule Three is KNOW HOW TO USE WHAT YOU HAVE. This is VITAL for parents of teens with smart phones. You need to be able to pick up your kid’s phone and know immediately who they have been texting, calling, or posting to. You need to know EXACTLY what pictures they have posted and to what services, and you need to know what web sites and chat rooms they visit. Learn the lingo. If you are looking at your children’s text history and you see someone sending GNOC to your daughter, and her reply of CD9, you have a problem. He just asked her to get naked on camera and she, rather than screaming and throwing the phone in disgust, told him that her parents were in the room. This is not a good sign. This link will take you to a dictionary of common texting terms. It would not hurt to look.  According, once again, to the Federal Agency responsible for keeping up with stuff like that, 70% of ALL teens are involved in sexting.  (If you don’t know what that is, ask your teenager.  I promise that they will.)  51% of high school girls have sent a sexually explicit photo to a boy in their class.  It happens daily.  It happens in big cities and little country towns.  It happens in California and in the Bible belt.  The WORST thing you can do is think that your kid is not involved.  In many areas it is a rite of passage in MIDDLE SCHOOL for girls to send topless pictures to boys they have a crush on.  Other GIRLS pressure them into it.

Rule Four; if you choose to purchase online, buy from a reputable dealer.  If you buy from an individual, use a certified and reliable “go-between” like eBay.  I know that 1000 Megawatt laser on Wild Weasel’s Laser Emporium looked cool but if they ask you for a credit card and don’t send you to a secure site (https: and not http:) then you need to give it a miss.

Next, DON’T store password in your device, especially a phone.  They get lost all the time.  If someone finds it and browses to your amazon account, your stored password in a golden ticket to max out your credit card.  Don’t take online marketing sites up on their friendly offer to establish an “account” to make purchases easier.  You enter your payment information once and then you can “one click” purchase items.  This is a recipe for disaster.

You really don’t need me to tell you these things.  All you have to do is pause and think for just a moment before you post, blog, or buy anything in the virtual world.  Make sure your children a emotionally and mentally mature enough to handle the responsibility and temptation of Social Media before you send them out the door with a smart phone and unlimited data plan.  Remember that ANYTHING you put into a digital format of any kind and post anywhere is suddenly public domain.  There is no such thing as privacy.  By posting it you agree to whatever terms and conditions the website owner can dream up.  There are no rules.  It can be fun or dangerous depending on you taking responsibility for yourself and your family.  Tomorrow night we will discuss identity theft and geotracking in photos.  See you then.

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Comments»

1. Melissa - August 22, 2013

Good information and advice. Have seen so much of what kids can very innocently get involved with. So important to know what is out there and how to help our kids make good, healthy choices.

regan222 - August 22, 2013

All we can do is tell ’em but we need to know how to intervene BEFORE something tragic happens. Most parents don’t have the first clue on how to find their kid’s phone’s text history. They need to. We had a couple of junior girls last year make a lasting impression on campus when some pictures got out and around. This is in WHITESBORO of all places.


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