Ten Sure Ways to Secure Yourself in Online Forums
There are many benefits that you can derive from online forums, including message boards and chat rooms. You can get first-hand information about a particular topic, or you will be fed with enriching knowledge and learning based on the experiences of other users. What’s more, they are great places to look for new friends. But do you know that you can be at harm’s way with them?
Indeed, because forums are public, anyone can basically join and participate. They can also have the ability to reach you. For example, if you are in the chat room, anyone can basically talk to your privately. In message boards, there are what we call as private messages where unknown individuals can send you messages. So how do you protect yourself from online forums?
When you are in the chat room and message boards:
1. Don’t trust anyone online. Only trust those individuals whom you are friends with even before you are engaged in chat rooms. When you are in such forum, it’s likely that the person you are talking to is not exactly who they are. Worse, it doesn’t even matter if you have been communicating for such a long time.
2. Avoid meeting anyone you have only met online. It is always a no-no to set up a meeting with anyone whom you’ve only met over the World Wide Web. However, if it is really important for you to do so, such as when you are going to set up a business appointment, then make sure that you have informed someone about it, perhaps your parents or a very close friend. It’s also advisable to meet them in public places and during daytime.
3. Always be in control. Never in any way divulge personal information. It can be your name your address, and contact details. Don’t send your pictures too. It will make you even more vulnerable to deception.
4. Keep important details off your profile. There are chat rooms that will basically ask you to fill out your profile. However, this is to be discouraged as anyone can simply check yours and gather all important information about you.
5. Change your screen name. There are times when you are going to be caught in a very difficult situation such as when there’s a person who will start harassing or bombarding you with malicious messages. As soon as you feel this, then leave the conversation. Otherwise, if you still feel the need to join, then better modify your screen name.
6. Screen every private message that you receive. You can’t help other people to send you some private messages. However, since you are basically the owner of your account, you have to make sure that they are properly screened. Analyze each one and know what the sender may be asking from you. This is to make sure that no personal information is given which will put you in danger.
7. Avoid using your real name. Fortunately, there are numerous message boards that will allow you to use your username instead of your real name. This is one of the best ways to protect your personal information, more so, your name.
8. Prevent your kids from joining message boards and chat rooms. Kids are the most susceptible when it comes to sexual predators and pedophiles all over the Internet. It’s not unusual to hear cases of parents going frantic because their children are lost after frequent use of the Internet. Thus, as a parent, you have to protect the safety of your children. There are numerous software that can give you parental controls. You can select websites that you want your children to visit and sites which shouldn’t be accessed in any way. You can also request your kids not to access any chat room or message board. It’s better to educate them of the various dangers they could face if they are in the Internet.
9. Inform your parents or partner. If you feel like there is something or someone bothering you, or if there are particular instances that are making you feel concerned or uncomfortable, inform your parents or your spouse right away.
10. Archive your conversations. Most of all, keep all conversations perhaps in Word document or in Notepad. The most important thing is you have a transcript. They may come in handy when you are in grave danger and you may have to present proof of it.
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