Telecom - Safety on the Net (was Re: Bill to Curb Online Predators

The other thing I'd like to see far more of is proactive effort at

> teaching the kids how to spot online personas they should steer clear > of. It's all fine and good to work at taking predators off the net, > but shouldn't we teach the potential prey a thing or two about staying > out of harm's way? After all, we teach kids to look for traffic before > we teach them to drive. If they're old enough to be on the Internet, > they're old enough to be told some of the things that should set off > alarm bells: > * Any photo of you that spends a nanosecond on the Internet is out in > public forever. Therefore, never e-mail *ANYONE* a photo that you > wouldn't want your mother to post on your fridge or your worst enemy to > post on every locker in school. > * Any info you put online that identifies your name, address, or > telephone number, or even just what school you go to, is really useful > for creepy people who want to track you down and hurt you. Make sure > you only give that kind of info to people that you know *offline*. > * If you're under 18, and an adult starts talking sexy, and then wants > you to dress up or shave "down there" or otherwise do something to > make you look even younger, RUN AWAY *SCREAMING*. The "talking sexy" > part is "smoke," but the "look younger" part is a five-alarm fire. > * If anyone -- a grownup or another kid -- tries to push you into a > sexual situation, that person is not being a good friend, not even a > little bit. That includes "if you REALLY love me," and "you're not > some kind of a prude, are you?" and any other comments meant to > embarrass you or emotionally blackmail you into sex. > [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: ... Your rules of thumb are pretty > good, but I would make one change: In your rule "If you are under 18 > and an adult" I would drop the 'if you are under 18 part' .... and > just say if that sort of thing happens for anyone -- after all, the > person you are chatting with _is_ essentially a stranger -- my advice > would be to cut the connection then and there, unless you do things > like that for total strangers. And regards your last rule, "if you > really love me" I do not see how that could be possible (love) based > on the very limited conversation to date.

What matters here is the perception of the presumably innocent victim. There are, unfortunately, many poor souls who are starved for love, and some of them, I'm sure, fall victim to "if you REALLY love me".

And I would possibly add another rule to those you have given: > generally, stay away from Yahoo, AOL or MSN chat. Those three, along > with IRC are about the biggest wastes of time and bandwidth on the net. > Finally, feel free to transmit
formatting link
several times during an open chat session. PAT]

I passed Linc's original message around, and got back some useful additions:

You don't know all the members of a chat room or bulletin board. Your on-line life is someone else's daily soap opera.

Identifying factors like name and address are not necessary to track someone down. Hometown, pictures, school mascot, where the band will meet next Saturday, which hospital you went to for a broken bone, restaurants, and even using nicknames can be put together to help track you down.

Blogs are not diaries. Don't write anything on them that can help track down your location. Don't write anything on them that will hurt someone else. (There are ways to track you down if you put something inappropriate up; even if your blog appears totally anonymous otherwise.) Don't hyperbolize, it will be taken literally. And don't write anything on them you wouldn't let your Grandma read.

And as recommended by Gavin de Becker (the "Gift of Fear" guy) listen to your instincts first, question them later. It's better to hurt someone's feelings by saying no or ignoring them than to put yourself or a friend in danger. And it's never to late to back out of plans made with on-line personae. (In the case of teens...just blame your parents. That's what they're there for.)

I hope that helps.


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The Kaminsky Family
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