Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Safety first

This morning the New Orleans Police Department's Crime Prevention Unit issued a long press release about online safety titled "Being Safe and Smart While Social Networking." Coincidentally, today was the day that NOLA.com launched its new commenting system so it was probably a good time for a refresher course anyway.

The press release begins by describing the internet at some length. These are only the first three paragraphs.
Browsing the Internet is like having the world’s largest library and entertainment system at your fingertips. Kids are able to read stories, tour museums, visit other countries, play games, look at photographs, shop, and do research to help with homework. The Internet is a great tool for children to learn academically and socially. It also offers an array of entertainment resources, but it may also pose some risks. It can be a forum where children are vulnerable.

Social networking sites are the hippest “meet market” around, especially among tweens, teens, and 20 somethings. These sites encourage and allow people to exchange information about themselves, and use blogs, chat rooms, email, or instant messaging to communicate with the world at large. But while they can increase a person’s circle of friends, they also can increase exposure to people who have less-than-friendly intentions, including sexual predators.  
Social networking websites are here to stay… and the number and types continue to evolve on a daily basis. As these sites continue to increase in popularity so does the attention that they are getting from criminals. Now is the time to educate yourself on the proper use of these social networking websites. It is important to be aware of the risks of social networking in this cyber world we live in.
Later there are a series of bulleted safety pointers the police would like the hip tweens, teens and 20 somethings to consider while making their way around this cyber world we live in.  Some of these might also have benefited certain employees of the US Attorney's office had they been made aware of them when they first ventured out into the "meet market."
Make sure your screen name doesn’t say too much about you. Set a display name (screen name) that is not your actual name. Instead, make up a generic name such as “123girl.” Do not use any information in your display name that indicates personal interests or location such as “SoccerPlayer123” or “LouisvilleGal.” Don’t use your age or your hometown. Even if you think your screen name makes you anonymous, it doesn’t take a genius to combine clues to figure out who you are and where you can be found.
Setting up an alias, like "123girl" is also pretty good advice for an NOPD officer cruising around the cyber world for child pornography.  I wonder if he tried that.  

No comments: