Internet Safety and Privacy 101

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Staff member
If you're involved in various forms of social media, chances are that somewhere, some of your private information has become public—although not necessarily in plain format—it could be snippets of seemingly harmless personal content which could be used like puzzle pieces from here and there to assemble a full picture.

Where could those pieces be found? Silly Facebook "quizzes," and apps, newsletter sign-ups, phone apps, email registration, fake raffles, shopping lists, poorly chosen user names, public events websites, career networking profiles, websites which have been targeted by cyber criminals, even poorly secured financial institutions... This list hardly includes everything out there.

Some of the ways to protect yourselves are fairly simple and limiting photo sharing is a good place to start. Many images can be "reverse searched" which may lead to a personal profile which wasn't intended to be seen by weirdos. Avoid sharing any image which you may have shared within your personal content such as personal Facebook profile, school photos, career profiles, etc. Photos of common objects which have been uniquely decorated to suit your taste/needs could lead to your personal content as well. If you've accidentally shared one of those pictures with a potential creep, kill it with fire—delete it from all personal profiles, from your devices (so you're not tempted to share it in the future), from anonymous profile websites and deny its existence. Disabling geotagging (GPS location information embedded into images) is a good way to protect your location as well. Geotagging can be disabled in your phone's camera/privacy settings. Some websites which use image re-formatting remove GPS info, some don't. It's a good idea to disable the feature if you frequently use your phone's camera to share images in public, regardless of the image content.

Do not share your personal email (one you use for banking, personal profiles, work, etc) with anonymous individuals and websites.
Do not share personal messenger accounts to interact with anonymous individuals via anonymous websites.
Do no share personal phone numbers and personal messenger numbers with anonymous individuals via anonymous websites.
Do not share names of places/events you regularly visit (such as restaurants, local events, schools you're enrolled in, places you've worked at, etc), dates you may have visited them or will visit them.
Do not discuss your line of work.
Do not discuss past residences in your past.
Do not discuss vehicles you drive and property you own. Even unique pets you may have.
Anyone you develop trust for is liable to share any information you've divulged, should you experience a fallout with them.
Disable geotagging (GPS info attached to photos) in your mobile device.

You can always create additional and anonymous emails, messenger accounts and social profiles to interact with anonymous users. Such accounts can be dumped and burned without that content haunting you in the future.

Ignoring/blocking persistent personal information trolls is a good way to shield yourself as well. Such troll's goal is to provoke you into inadvertently sharing personal information, no matter how minuscule, which can later be pieced together to assemble a profile leading to your personal content.

Be smart about your content. There is no real need to share personal information with anonymous individuals on anonymous and public websites.

And last, but not least, don't mess with people who can seemingly extract information out of thin air you breathed around them. Those people are uniquely gifted and will wreck your sanity.

PS: While keeping your appearance private is a good idea, using some else's stolen photo is unacceptable. You're violating someone's privacy which may come with multiple ramifications.

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