Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Internet is A Public Place

I'm not sure I approve of facebook. Yeah, I use it (for games!), but there is only one photo of me (and one of my poor short necked giraffe, and an avatar from one of my games), and my personal details are limited.

But I go onto other people's fb pages, and there are so many photos - of them, their kids, where they work, what school they went to, their birthday... It is really worrying that people don't see anything wrong with this.

A lot of people forget that the internet is essentially a public place. It's like inviting people in to your house, into your family.

Many people on the internet don't want to be your friend. Some of them may want to hurt you. To take your identity and commit identity fraud. To contact your children and/or to do a whole raft of dangerous and disturbing things.

So we need to stay alert. No one wants to give you that copy of Adobe CS5 for free - That's a $3000+ piece of software. If they tell you they want to give you one over torrent, it might be a copy... but it will almost certainly have some nasty additions on top of the regular stuff. It sounds pretty terrible, but part of being internet savvy is being suspicious. We've all heard of people meeting someone they met on the internet, and they don't look a thing like their photo. But things can be so much worse.

Someone I know recently had a scare. Their pre-teen, who is old enough to know better, met someone in a chatroom and told them everything. Where he lived, who lived with him, full name, about his family, everything. The person he told it to turned out to be an adult. But the worst thing is, the kid still has no idea why what he did was wrong. He was arranging to meet this man when his parents found out.

I was 12 the year we got the internet. I used chatrooms, but I was a wary child. The second anyone started saying anything appropriate, I blocked/reported them. This was after all, a children's chat room. People didn't know much about the dangers back then, posting full personal details online. But even then, I wasn't one of them. You have to be a conscious user of the internet. You can't just wander around without paying attention to what your doing, who you're talking to, what you're giving away.

I suppose my point is simple - would you tell someone you met down the shops/pub what you're telling the faceless sympathetic ear on the internet? If the answer is no, you probably shouldn't be telling them either.

(This is a bit disjointed. I wrote half of it earlier, so I may rework it tomorrow.)

1 comment:

  1. I went to a cyber safety lecture last night. It is crazy how unsafe people can be in their own homes - the digital footprint is followed not only by predators, but potential employers as well! People need to be really careful about what they share. I wrote a little about the cyber safety lecture on my own blog - have a look and let me know what you think :)