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Being Cyber Savvy: Limit What You Share

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Let’s face it: your personal information is out there for everyone to see. Social media alone can reveal to millions of online users your current and past names used, your birthday or place of birth, your email, mailing or home address, your spouse, child or pet’s names, and more. With 3+ billion social media users around the globe, it’s no wonder that not everyone is up to something good on the Web.

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The problem with using social media is that everything we share (whether private or public) is saved somewhere. This makes our information easily discoverable and, unfortunately, out of our reach once it’s “out there”, so to speak.

Take control of your information

With all of the information out there online, you may be wondering how you can possibly reel it all in. Follow these tips to get started:

  • Own your presence online: set the privacy and security settings on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram to your comfort level for information sharing; in other words, it’s okay to limit the information you share
  • Don’t use lazy passwords: use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters to create safe passwords, and never use the same password for multiple accounts
  • Don’t click on dubious links: links in emails, posts, online advertisements or tweets are often used as a way for hackers to compromise your device
  • Don’t believe everything: posts and links from “friends” on your newsfeed that don’t sound quite right may mean that their account has been hacked
  • Be disciplined: before posting anything online, check with yourself and make sure you’re comfortable sharing this information (this includes in private chats and emails)
  • Manage your audience: create separate groups to control who can (and can’t) see certain information and/or status updates
  • Track your activity: be careful when signing into a third-party app or website with your Facebook or Google credentials, and remove these integrations when they’re no longer in use
  • Clean up after yourself: a majority of online sites and services track your activity and search history, so make sure to routinely clear out your browser history, cookies, and more
  • Eliminate idle accounts: delete old or idle accounts to prevent people impersonating you on the Web
  • Be devious: Instead of answering your security questions with something straight-forward, make up your own questions and answers that would trip-up any potential hackers

Cyberbullying and what to do about it

Cyberbullying is the use of the Internet and other technologies to harm people in a deliberate, repeated and hostile way. Forms of cyberbullying include (but aren’t limited to) things such as:

  • Flaming: or, using vulgar/intense language in a rapid-fire of online comments or messages to intimidate or otherwise offend someone
  • Harassment: repeatedly sending nasty, mean or insulting messages to someone online
  • Denigration: “dissing” someone online, typically through use of gossip or rumors
  • Impersonation: pretending to be someone online, usually to get that person in trouble
  • Outing: revealing personal or sensitive details or materials about someone online without their consent
  • Trickery: talking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing information online, only to share it later on without their consent
  • Exclusion: intentionally (and cruelly) excluding someone from an online group
  • Cyberstalking: repeated, intense harassment and denigration, including threats, that induce fear

If you or someone you know is being cyberbullied, it’s best to tell someone you trust and report the activity to a website’s administrator as soon as it occurs. You can also block the user causing you distress (if that’s an option on the website in question). Either way, do not engage with the cyberbully after an event occurs; that is exactly what they want you to do.

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