Your personal blog is an awesome way to express yourself, and showcase the things you are learning in school and in life. Unfortunately, blogs are also a place where criminals can collect important information about you if you are not safe.
Seven safety tips for blogging
- Think carefully about how public your blog is. Think of a sliding scale. The more personal or identifiable the information you share, the fewer people you should share it with. If you want your blog to be public, only disclose what you want everyone on the Internet (the public) to know. Otherwise, keep your blog private. Also, periodically review who has access to your site and make changes if necessary. We all know that friends change over time-for example, you drift apart or experience a rift that breaks the friendship. How will your information be treated then?
- Keep identifying details to yourself and close friends. A good rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t share the info on your blog with a strange guy on a dark street, don’t post it for the public.
- Don’t use your real name on your site (or anyone else’s either). Your friends already know the details and its no one else’s business. Create a nickname or screen name that doesn’t attract the wrong kind of attention or help someone find you.
- Don’t give information that puts you on the map. Don’t mention such details as your address, school, where you work, even the town name if it’s small.
- Don’t reveal any information that gives away your age such as your birth date or year of graduation.
- Be smart about the photos/music you post. What does the picture show about you-does it attract the wrong kind of attention or help someone find you? Be careful about sharing your feelings in your blog. You probably express feelings in your blog through other ways than just writing. The poems you select, the music you list, the pictures you post-all these tell a lot about who you are and how you feel. A snapshot, too, can reval how you feel about yourself-proud of your body, lacking self-confidence, sad, trying to look sexy or cool? All of this is great information to a predator who’s on the hunt and who would be delighted to make you feel important or special.
- What’s in the background? Does the photo show your house number, a street sign, a license plate, a clear landmark?
- Did you caption your photos with full names or other identifying details? How does the combination of both text and photos (or videos) multiply the amount of personal information that’s displayed?
- What’s on your shirt? The name of your school, sports team, or club? Your name?
- Who’s in the picture? If it shows friends or family members, you may be putting them at risk, too.
- What else do you see? Can you tell the economic status of the individual or family? Does the photo show emotional vulnerability?
- Check out what your friends write about you. In their blogs, they may be announcing that they’ll miss you because your family is going on vacation-and you may come back to a burglarized house. Or maybe they’re giving out your address or real name so someone can find you. Check the comments they leave on your blog, too, to make sure they don’t give away personal details.
- Be very cautious about meeting in person someone you only know through blogging.
Everything they’ve told you about themselves and their motivation for meeting you may be completely true – or none of it could be. They may feel like a close friend, but they are still a stranger, so never go alone to meet.
- If you think there’s a problem, report it. Immediately. No one has the right to threaten or upset you. Ever. If anyone (even someone you know) sends you something creepy, says something scary, asks lots of personal questions, or tries to meet you, report the problem. (If you’re a minor, talk to an adult you trust.) Every service should make it easy to report abuse function; if your blogging service doesn’t, consider switching providers.