How to Protect Yourself When Using Social Media

danger

Sometimes it is a scary world out there, and we need to protect ourselves off-line as well as online. Here are some statistics:  There are 3.175 billion internet users, this is half of the world’s population. – There are 2.2+ billion active users of social media. – More people in the world have smart phones than toothbrushes.  Wait…..what?  That is a lot of people. How do you protect yourself when you are online?  Especially if you are involved in a stalking or domestic violence situation? We are not talking about just being mad at a friend. We are talking about distancing yourself from someone who wants to bring harm to you, physically, mentally or emotionally.

 Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself.

 First, you may want to become less visible on the internet. Be mindful of what you are posting and where. Any Google search will tell you exactly what social media sites you are on and, depending on your security settings, what you are posting there. Google you name and see what shows up in the search results. Search for different variations of your name or ways people may know you. Like with my name, I search for Patricia Singer, Patti Singer, Patricia A. Singer. Where do you show up and what is visible to the general public?

check in

 Second, disable the location finder on your smart phone. When you are out don’t check in to locations using apps like Foursquare or Facebook. Say you are at the movie theater and you post on Facebook that you are there seeing a movie with friends. The person that you are trying to avoid now knows exactly where you are and when you are there.

 Third, to distance yourself from someone, your first step should be to unfriend them on Facebook. You should also block them on Facebook as well as the other social media sites you are on. This will, for the most part, stop them from seeing what you are posting. But, as we all know….what goes on the internet, stays on the internet. Please remember though that the person or people you are with might be friends with the person you are trying to get away from and if they are posting about being with you, they may be informing your ex or stalker about you unintentionally.

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 Fourth, when friends tag you in their own posts. Like we spoke about earlier, if your friends are tagging you in pictures and/or posts while you are together, they may be informing your ex or stalker of your whereabouts and activities. Ask you friends to not tag you in any of their posts or pictures until your situation improves. You can also adjust your settings to have to approve things that people tag you in. Changing this setting will help you control who tags you.

 Your best bet is to start a new Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram account. Stop using your current accounts and create brand new ones. Yes, you do have to reconnect with all your friends and family but then you can be more secure in the fact that there is no lingering friendship or connection that may jeopardize your safety. Reconnect with only trusted friends and let them know the reason why you are doing it. Also, ask them to not reconnect with the person you are trying to stay away from. Explain to them how important it is for you to not have contact with the person you are trying to get away from. If they are true friends they will be fierce in their protection of you!

 Lastly, be mindful of what you are posting. It is very tempting to go online and start ranting about or bad-mouthing the other person. Posting these things can only worsen the situation and infuriate the other person. Try to lay low and reduce your social media use until you feel safe or, if an attorney is involved, they advise you that it is ok to get back online. Your safety should be your number one priority. The Check-in, tweet, snap or selfie can wait.  

 Patricia Singer is the owner of Follow Me Social Media Consulting. She works with individuals, small and mid-sized businesses, helping them navigate and market using the numerous social media platforms. For all the latest regarding social media be sure to connect with Patti on all the social media platforms and visit her website at www.BestToFollowMe.com

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