Friday, January 24, 2014

Stay Safe Online WHILE You Build Your Platform

by Edie Melson

An online presence is important—but not
more than our safety!
As writers we know the importance of developing an online presence, but is there such a thing as too much information out there?

Absolutely!

The result of too much information online can range from the irritating to the dangerous. But it is possible to be smart and still have an online presence that will garner you the right kind of reader notice.

So how much is too much to stay safe online? Anything that lets your online presence collide with your physical presence without you managing the connections. 

Here are some tips to help you stay out of trouble:
Know what boundaries you're comfortable with.
  • Have boundaries firmly established in your own mind—BEFORE something happens. That way, when someone get too familiar, you’ll be ready to do more than just feel vaguely uncomfortable. So often I talk to writers who have a cyber-stalker and they’re not even certain whether they should be concerned or not.
  • Trust your instincts. I cannot emphasize this one strongly enough. If someone makes you uncomfortable, act on your feelings.
  • Don’t friend/follow/or otherwise engage someone who isn’t willing to post a picture and/or give out reasonable information.
Do give away your physical location.
  • Don’t use an social media networks and/or settings where you check in at places. There is no good reason or someone to know where you are generally. If you’re at a conference or a big event, you can let people know you’re there if you choose, but don’t leave your safety to a computer program.
  • Turn OFF your location settings for your phone, digital camera, ereader and tablet. Otherwise, any picture you take with those devices could have an imbedded code that gives the latitude and longitude of where the picture was taken. This is especially true if you post pictures of children (your own or even grandkids). Don’t make it easy for a predator to map out your location.


What should you do when something makes you uncomfortable?
Trust your instincts!
The biggest thing is do NOT be tempted to be polite when you’re worried. This is similar to following your instincts in that we often push down our uncomfortable feelings for the sake of being polite. If someone is tweeting to you, sending you repeated Facebook messages, or contacting you in any way that makes you uncomfortable, don’t ignore your feelings.
  • First, confront the person making you uncomfortable and request they respect your boundaries.
  • If they don’t adhere to your guidelines, immediately block them from the social media networks where they are contacting you.
  • Finally, report them to the social media network(s) where the infraction occurred.

This isn’t something you should fool around with, but it’s also something you shouldn’t be worried about. Taking these steps will keep you safe and give you the boundaries you need to stay safe online.


What steps do you take to stay safe? Have you ever felt uncomfortable by a contact? If so what did you do?

Edie Melson is an author, freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She’s the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, and the Senior Editor for http://www.NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

4 comments:

Ron Estrada said...

Timely post, Edie. I have several facebook groups, as well as twitter accounts and my blog. The spammers are getting better at disguising their true intent. So are other criminals. They know that Christians will always respond to a cause or someone in need. And they know how to play to our emotions. We're very good at being as gentle as doves. But we fall short of the "wise as serpents" part of that advice.

Ane Mulligan said...

Excellent advice! The location feature on cameras is a huge thing. I saw a police report on that on the news. That's very real.

Edie Melson said...

Ron, that's so true. I've had to learn to be skeptical. It's just not my natural bent. It's been said that I'm so naive it's actually a disability! Blessings, E

Edie Melson said...

Ane, it's not just cameras on phones either. It's on a tablet, or even the digital cameral itself. Scary thing! Blessings, E