When using the Internet, you should always take precautions to guarantee your personal safety. Despite recent safety concerns regarding MySpace users, MySpace is no more dangerous than any other social website, blog, or online communication. Just like in the real world, predators use the resources available to them to find potential victims. If you use common sense and take basic steps to ensure your security, MySpace will remain a perfectly safe and fun environment.
Do not give away your personal information. Giving away, or displaying, your personal information on the Internet is the best way to attract an online predator. If they have your personal information, they probably won't bother you online, because they will be able to find you offline. How much information you allow people to see is entirely up to you, but keep in mind that the more you allow others to know, the easier it will be for someone to find you.
Customize your privacy settings. To customize your privacy settings, click on the <Account Settings> link on the main edit page and then scroll down until you see the "Privacy Settings" option. Click on <Change Settings> and make the desired changes.
- Limit friends. By checking the "Require email or last name to me as a friend" option, you are preventing people who do not know you from adding you as a friend.
- Change who can view your full profile. Check the box by "My Friends Only" so only your friends will be able to view everything in your profile.
Use common sense when dealing with strangers. If someone that you do not know asks for personal information, such as your address or home telephone number, do not give it away. Ask yourself especially if you are under the age of 21, why does a person you do not know, or have known only through MySpace, need your home information? That is cause to be suspicious.
Take cautionary measure when meeting someone who you met online. Though it has been done, arranging to meet someone you met on the Internet is, at times, a dangerous terrain. After all, MySpace does not do background checks or research on the members which means that there is NO way to know if the person you have been chatting with is who they claim to be. But if you are planning on meeting someone you have met on MySpace, despite the obvious danger it presents, make sure you plan the meeting in a public area, tell your family and friends about the arrangement and bring friends along with you.
Be aware! It is also strongly suggested that before you meet with someone you met online, that you read the article, "Who Are You Dating?". It's a great resource to understanding how you can easily and proactively check out a person's background information before ever meeting them in person.
Additional Safety Tips
- Don't post anything you wouldn't want the world to see.
- Avoid posting anything that will allow a stranger to find you.
- Be a skeptic first, a believer much later. Making friends online is one thing, but extending that to an offline friendship may not be in your best interest. Assume people are not whom they claim to be.
- Never use, or tolerate inappropriate language, such as harassment, or hateful content.
- How will you feel if someone reads your content, two, three, or five years down the line? Once you put something online, it can be difficult to get it off. You can cancel an account, but others may have picked up your information.
- Never pretend to be someone you're not, or mislead people into thinking you're older or younger than you are.
- Never give out your username, password, or other personal information—even if you receive an email from what looks like a real company. This is called Phishing (fishing for information.) The con artist has set up a website that looks exactly like a real company (i.e. PayPal or eBay) but when you reenter payment or personal information, it goes to the criminal, not a real company.
- Don't use your real name online.
- Before posting information on your site, ask yourself if you'd be comfortable handing that information to a stranger you passed on the street.
- Be very suspicious of "new friends" who ask very personal, and many questions right away. Cease communication if they are pushy about meeting you.
Cyber Tip Line Advice
- Online predators skim personal information from profiles and blogs and use it to gain trust and to make the would-be victim feel a false sense of security. Avoid posting personal information—don't give predators anything they can use.
- What information do your photos reveal? What is in the background? A school? Identifying information for a city or town? Your address? Be sure photos don't reveal personal information either.
- Respect the privacy of friends and family when posting photos they may be in. Always seek permission, and never post their personal information.
- Be leery of people who claim they know you—especially if you don't know them.
- Don't meet someone offline that you met through social networking.
How to Handle Rude People
Just like in the offline world, you have nice, thoughtful people who exercise tact; people who use less than stellar conduct because they don't know any better; and then you have the down right disturbed. So, how do you handle users who make you less than comfortable with their conduct?
The easiest way you can deal with distasteful or rude comments is to "police" your site and regularly review what is posted on your page. Delete inappropriate comments and emails, but also report them to MySpace.
If you feel that the person just didn't know better, but is a good person, you can tactfully ask that they not post the offending matter if they contact you again.
If "new friends" turn not so nice, or continue to offend, you can always delete them from your Friends List which prevents them from viewing your page, or adding comments. You can also go to the person's profile and click <Block User> from the Contact Menu. The person should get the picture and go away if ignored.
Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye
If you don't give the offending person the time of day, or the attention they thrive on, they should disappear. So, be sure not to respond to their emails or leave comments on their page. This can be very difficult, especially if they have irritated you and you feel the urge to respond to the rudeness. But don't. If you do, they'll never go away.
If you are harassed, threatened, or treated in a way that concerns you, contact MySpace.com immediately and if you are under 21 years of age, consider informing your parents. Your local authorities should also be contacted if you are threatened or if a person you’re having a problem with approaches you offline.
Having a MySpace page does not have to be a risky activity. By following these guidelines, taking precautions and using common sense, you can enjoy updating your MySpace and browsing through your network of friends without fear for your wellbeing.