For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Monday, July 28, 2014

General Facebook Safety

In my last post, I discussed how easily personal information can be picked up off Facebook and used by criminals. In this post, I want to tell you some ways to protect yourself.

Let’s start at the beginning and work our way through the settings, privacy, and so on.

The Password:
Change it regularly.
Pick something no one can guess.
Don’t use children’s names, birthplaces, favorite dog’s name, etc.
Use numbers, upper and lower case letters, and symbols when you can
Be careful typing or texting it where people can see. People can see over your shoulder on buses, sitting by you at the park, waiting for the kids in the bleachers, at McDonald’s. Anywhere someone is sitting near you, they can see. In fact, they can use binoculars and see, too. So be protective.
If you have to share it due to an emergency (ex. when my husband died and my cousin updated my page for me), change it when the “emergency” time period is over.

Notifications—Get notified if someone is trying to use your account.

Who can see my stuff?—Keep it at "friends". If you put "public", anyone can see it.

Look at all the posts and things you are tagged in.—I know it sounds tedious but take a look. If nothing else, it will tell you what you are telling everyone else and what your connections are releasing to their friends, too.

Who can contact me?—Things to consider:

Everybody—About four years ago a friend of mine I had lost contact with while he was serving our country nearly 20 years ago found me because anyone could find me. I had prayed for him that whole time, and to me, receiving his message on Facebook was a God-gift. There are those.

However, there are people who aren’t your friends and are just looking for a victim.

Friends of friends—People who are friends with friends you knew in high school or college or the place you used to live can find you this way.

However, we don’t know how our friends select people on their friends list or what kind of people their friends really are. The sad fact is, if you look at comments about criminals, a scary percentage are seen as “just a regular person” and “would do anything for anybody”. Or in the case of my neighbor, bring food when we were sick so I didn’t have to go to the store, mow my huge backyard for me while I was off my feet, and check on us during one of our really bad storms to see if we were okay. Great guy…who happens to be a registered offender now. I also want to point out, he wasn’t always a registered sex offender. In fact, as of March 31st, he was just a nice neighbor next door. Just because the people on someone’s friends list isn’t a registered offender or law-defined criminal doesn’t mean anything. It means they haven’t been caught. I’m not being cynical. I’m being real. I’m not saying don’t let friends of friends see you. I’m saying know the risk you are taking.

I also want to mention that ex-spouses and ex-romantic interests and hateful neighbors and just folks who many not like you for some reason who are friends of your friends, can use that window to find you. This is a major point I bring up when I’m speaking to women who are escaping or have escaped and are rebuilding after violent relationships. You have to close every door that someone who would hurt you might use to find you.

Timeline and Tagging:
Who can add things to your timelines and reviewing tags—I review all tags because we attended a church that liked to take pictures, especially of the kids, and tag the parents and name the kids. What that did was allow people to see my children’s faces, names, and know their church. Or, if someone was trolling the church page, they could pick up the kids’ info, then tag over and look at anything available on my page to figure out where we live and our routines to determine vulnerable places and times. And, yes, that sounds paranoid. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

Who can see things on my timeline?—Take the time to view it from others’ perspectives. What can friends see? Friends of friends? Complete strangers? Do you really want them to see what? If not, tighten up your privacy.

How can I manage tags…?—Tags are interesting little things. When someone tags you, you see it, friends of the friend see it, and usually friends of whoever else is tagged can see it, and if they comment, their friends might be able to see it. Suddenly we have a pretty big audience. If you are trying to keep the audience low, review all tags, limit the audience, and don’t let Facebook suggest you for tags that look like you.

Blocking—In the situation I had, I had to block specific people who were direct concerns. I also had to block mutual friends who might aide them in gaining information concerning the children and myself. Remember, no man is an island until him-/herself. Look beyond the first layer for possible threats.

Followers—Again, who do you want to know what? And you may be wondering why anyone would follow you anyway? Because they can.

Photos: Check your pictures for license plates, mail boxes, house numbers, street signs, etc. Either blur them or cut them out. They are all pieces that a predator can use to find you.

If you go to your profile, you can control who sees the information about you. For instance, beside birthday, you can see a lock. Click on it and determine who you want to know that information. This is information I always suggest hiding, but if you like the warm fuzzies of the well-wishing (sometimes it is nice), then at least hide the year. That is a piece of personal information people can use to steal your identity.

Relationships status: I strongly encourage women who are single to keep this hidden. I know. It sounds sexist, but you all know I’m right, too. Sorry.

Work and Education: Don’t make it public or for friends of friends to see. Again, little details that make stealing your identity easier, and in the case of children, strangers can find out just enough to convince the Little Folk they know Mom or Dad and just need to take Little Folk to them, and why would Little Folk doubt anyone who knew Mom or Dad that well?

I won’t go through each section, but remember, your profile is your personal information. It tells who you are and what you do. People with the wrong set of skills and intent can take that information and become you. Anything you don’t want a potential criminal to know should not be there for them to see.
Final thing I want to mention here, have you looked at the message section of the Facebook site? Have you noticed it says “Inbox” and “Other”? The “Other” box fields messages from folks who are not connected to you. If you get a message in that box, there is a simple rule: If you don’t know the person, don’t reply. If you read it, and it strikes you as odd, report it to Facebook.

For instance, I received a message from a man who told me he hoped I was having a great week and hoped the kids are doing great. I didn’t know him, but notice how he knew some personal information? The kids. Seems like he really knows me, right? Let’s think. I’m in the “mid-life” age range and female. I probably have kids, so he could be playing the odds. So if his guess hits and I get that “oh, he cares about my kids” warm fuzzy, and you know, it's one of those days when it's just nice to hear I'm pretty and nice that a man wants to talk to me...Suddenly, I'm the perfect victim because I'm likely to talk about anything and everything, and if he can't anything really big from me then, he still has me hooked because we all know there will be another day like that was just so nice, and he's so cute in that picture by the water on that boat...and it's jus SO nice to have someone to talk to. Yep. Perfect victim because the truth is he was trolling for information about me, OR, he was trolling for information about my kids. In my real scenario, I googled his name and found out there are several women reporting him to Facebook. I joined them.  But, if you don’t want to bother to report him, just delete him. DON’T entertain him.

Contrary to what some people believed, my extended vacation from Facebook had nothing to do with my sense of safety. However, there was a point after my husband died when I felt my children’s protection and privacy had been compromised, and I deactivated, and ultimately deleted, my account. Sometimes it truly is necessary. Most of the time, though, folks can stay safe by making the conscious choice to act wisely.

I don’t ever suggest anyone act or react out of fear. I do suggest people think clearly, be honest about the world we live in, and take the proper steps to protect the valuable people in their lives, including themselves.

Blessings, y’all!


 © 2014 Jerri Kelley Phillips

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