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Sections:

Instant Messenger Safety
Online Journal Safety
Social Media Safety
Chat Rooms

Instant Messenger Safety

There are several important things to remember when using any Instant Messenger program in order to be as safe as possible!

  1. Do not fill in personal information that identifies you. This means your full name, address, city, postal code, or primary email address. These might be obvious, but try to think about how other "unobvious" pieces of information may be traced to you. Do you have a very unusual name? Maybe a different spelling of a more common name. Avoid putting in the name of your school, sports team or club. If you want people to know you play on a soccer team, you can list "soccer" in your interests. Don't put "Mid-land Public School Soccer Team".
  2. Avoid the use of nicknames that make it obvious you are a girl or a boy. Some people target names that are obvious, such as "MissKitty" or "TuffGuy". If you're looking to just chat and meet some online friends, you don't want to be targeted by a jerk or predator who notices you just because of your name. Try to pick a name that isn't geared towards male or female.
  3. Avoid using your real name anywhere in your screen name. This is related to point b) above, but you also do not want to let every stranger out there know exact information about you. Choose who you give your name to. Don't share it with an entire chat room or random strangers.
  4. Learn how to block messages from people you don't want contacting you. Every chat program has an option to block specific users that are harassing you. If you get a message from someone you don't know, or the message makes you uncomfortable or is harassing, don't respond to it and block it.
  5. While blocking one person who is bothering you might work for a time, that person may enlist friends to start harassing you or spread your chat name around for others to bother you. They may also start a new account in order to get past the block you put on them. If this happens, you should block all messages that come from people that aren't on your friend's list. See below for steps on how to do this.

Ultimately, you should be prepared to dump your Instant Messenger account if you can't stop any harassment that's coming through it. Remember... it's just a screen name. You can start a new one, add your friends back, and feel safer knowing that someone can't follow you to the new account. But you have to protect the new account if this happens! Go through all the information on this page to make sure you set up a secure chat program so you feel safe!

ICQ:

  1. Click on the bottom left button that says "ICQ".
  2. Click on "Security and Privacy".
  3. Click on the "Ignore" tab at the top of the box.
  4. Check the box which states "Accept messages only from users on my Contact List".
  5. Click on "Save" on the bottom right hand corner.

For added security:

  1. Click on the "General" tab.
  2. Under "Contact List Authorization", select the button that says "My authentication is required before users add me to their contact list".
  3. Under "Web Aware", remove the checkmark from the box that says "Allow others to view my online/offline status from the Web".
  4. Click on the "Direct Connection" tab.
  5. Select the button that says "Allow Direct Connection with users listed on your Contact List".
  6. Click on "Save" on the bottom right hand corner.

MSN Messenger:

  1. Click on Tools, then Options.
  2. The most important in the Privacy tab, add those you want to allow or block here.
  3. Always check the other options to make sure they are what you want them to be.

AOL Instant Messenger:

  1. Click on MY AIM
  2. Click on Edit Options
  3. Click on Edit Preferences
  4. Click on Privacy, then select under "Who Can Contact Me" either "Allow only users on my Buddy list" or "Allow only the users below"
  5. Under "Allow users who know my e-mail address to find:" select "Nothing about me"
  6. You can also add usernames to the block list here as well
  7. It's a good idea to look over all the preferences and make sure they are what you want them to be - the default is to let everyone contact you.

AIM Triton

  1. Click on Edit, then Settings (or hit the F7 key)
  2. In the new popup window, select Privacy from the left hand menu
  3. Under "Who Can Contact Me," select "Allow only users from my Buddy List"
  4. Go through the rest of the selections in the left hand menu to make sure all the default selections are indeed what you want
  5. Click the SAVE button to save the changes

Yahoo Messenger:

  1. Click on Login, then Privacy Settings
  2. Make sure "Ignore anyone who is not on my Friends list" is selected
  3. Make sure the box for "Login as Invisible" is checked
  4. It's a good idea to go through all your Preferences to make sure they are what you want them to be.

Trillian

Because Trillian emulates five different chat programs (ICQ, Y!, MSN, AIM, and IRC), there are different features for each. This will cover security for all chat programs except IRC.

AIM (yellow)

  1. Right click on the yellow dot and select "Connection Preferences".
  2. Under the "Privacy" tab, select "Allow only users on Contact List".
  3. Select "Nothing about me" under "Allow users who know my email address to find".

ICQ (green)

  1. Right click on the green dot and select "Connection Preferences".
  2. Under the "Privacy" tab, select "Accept messages only from users on my Contact List".
  3. Under "Miscellaneous", uncheck "Allow users to see my status on the web".

MSN (blue)

  1. Right click on the blue dot and select "Connection Preferences".
  2. Under the "Phone" tab, make sure there is no information in this section.
  3. Under the "Privacy" tab, check off "Alert me when other users add me to their contact list".

Y!(red)

  1. Right click on the red dot and select "Connection Preferences".
  2. Under the "Privacy" tab, select "Ignore anyone who is not on my Contact List".

General Trillian Security

  1. Click on Trillian (at the top), then "Trillian Preferences".
  2. Click on "File Transfers". Under "Accepting", select "Ask" for both Users on contact list and not on contact list. This will prevent files from automatically being downloaded to your computer.
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Online Journal Safety

There are so many online journals or "blogs" as they're called these days, that it's nearly impossible to give safety precautions for every kind. There are some general safety tips though, which apply to any online journal. Following the general guidelines, there are some safety tips for some of the more popular online journals.

First off, remember that anyone can read what you post, unless you make your posts private or "friends only". This information can be picked up in search engines. If someone knows enough about you, they may be able to search out your journal using well-known search engines. Also, be careful what you post. Someone may be able to put together enough clues through your posts to find you in real life. Be careful about posting real names of people, locations, or any other identifying features. Identifying features include things like the name of your school, sports teams you play on, or clubs. You don't have to list "Mid-land Public School Soccer Team". You can list "soccer" as an interest though and state that you play on a team.

Don't fill in your profile with all kinds of identifying information. Leave out your real name, your date of birth, and all your contact information. If you want people to be able to contact you, use a secondary email address. Avoid putting in your Instant Messenger information, unless you've set it up to be secure.

If you do get a harassing comment, you want to save the message as "evidence", but you want to remove the comment from public view. You can do this by screening the comment. Check the Comments options for how to do this.

Many journal sites have communities that you can join. These are groups of people that share common interests, such as a TV show, a movie, books, or music. You can meet a lot of people and friends through communities, but you can also gain unwanted attention. Some suggestions for communities:

  1. Go through the information page and read the posts in the community. Look to see if it's exactly what you're looking for.
  2. Check to make sure that the posts are mostly on topic. You don't want to join a community that's not discussing your interest.
  3. Check the Comments to posts and see if they are mostly discussions about the post. Avoid communities that seem to have a lot of harassing and attacking users in them.
  4. Make sure that the community has a moderator! This is a person that takes care of problems in the community. They'll remove posts and ban people when things get out of hand. You don't want to join a community where the moderator doesn't seem to care about what's going on. If you do and you start getting harassed, chances are likely your only option will be to leave the community. If the moderator seems to be active in the group, then chances are they'll try to take care of the members. If you can't see a moderator taking part, check the info page for contact information and try contacting them personally. If they don't respond, then it's likely that they're not taking care of the group. Participate in these groups at your own risk.

Go through the Frequently Asked Questions pages for the journal site you're on and learn how to block unwanted users. Remember though that even if you block people from commenting, if you continue to post publicly, they'll still see whatever you post. You may want to consider going to private posts if you don't want someone you don't like reading your posts.

Security features for specific journal sites:

LiveJournal

  1. Under "Manage", click on "Info" (this is located at the top of the page)
  2. Under "Privacy Options" (further down the page), set the following options:
    1. deselect "Show your contact information" (or make sure that you're using secondary contact information, such as a secondary email address, secondary IM name, etc).
    2. if you want to show your contact information, you can set it to show only to friends, or display your generic Livejournal email address (if you have one).
    3. deselect "Show location & birthday" (or set it to be very generic, such as listing only your country and month/day of birth).
    4. Set "Who can reply to your entries" to "Friends only" (most secure) or "Registered Users" (not as secure, but better than "Anybody").
    5. Set "Log IP addresses of people replying to "Always".
    6. Set "Which replies do you want screened by default" to "non-friends" (this is relevant if you have part d) set to anything besides "Friends only")

GreatestJournal

  1. Under "Your Settings", click on "Personal Info" (this is located on the left of the page)
  2. Under "Privacy Options" (further down the page), set the following options:
    1. deselect "Show your contact information" (or make sure that you're using secondary contact information, such as a secondary email address, secondary IM name, etc).
    2. if you want to show your contact information, you can set it to show only to friends.
    3. deselect "Show location & birthday" (or set it to be very generic, such as listing only your country and month/day of birth).
    4. Set "Who can reply to your entries" to "Friends only" (most secure) or "Registered Users" (not as secure, but better than "Anybody").
    5. Set "Log IP addresses of people replying to "Always".
    6. Set "Which replies do you want screened by default" to "non-friends" (this is relevant if you have part d) set to anything besides "Friends only")
    7. If you are getting abusive private messages, there is presently no way to block these. Inform the abuse team of these if you are getting them.

Xanga

With Xanga, you are unable to control who can and cannot leave Comments unless you block their user name. Fortunately, only registered users can leave Comments on Xanga, so you don't have to worry about anonymous commentors.

  1. Click on "Edit" -> "Public Profile" (located on the left side of the page).
  2. Under "Basic Information", select "hide" for Metro, Zip Code, Birthday, and Gender.
  3. Under "Contact" (from the left side of the page), select "hide" for Email and all Instant Messenger programs, unless you use a secondary email address / Instant Messenger identity.

DeadJournal

  1. Under "Your Death Bed", click on "Grave Management" (this is located on the left of the page). Then select "Edit Personal Information".
  2. Under "Privacy Options" (further down the page), set the following options:
    1. deselect "Show your contact information" (or make sure that you're using secondary contact information, such as a secondary email address, secondary IM name, etc).
    2. if you want to show your contact information, you can set it to show only to friends, or display your generic Livejournal email address (if you have one).
    3. deselect "Show location & birthday" (or set it to be very generic, such as listing only your country and month/day of birth).
    4. Set "Who can reply to your entries" to "Friends only" (most secure) or "Registered Users" (not as secure, but better than "Anybody").
    5. Set "Log IP addresses of people replying to "Always".
    6. Set "Which replies do you want screened by default" to "non-friends" (this is relevant if you have part d) set to anything besides "Friends only")

Blogspot/Blogger

From what we have seen, Blogger offers very little control over who can and can't leave Comments or notes. If you are looking for an online journal site, we would advise against going with Blogger because it doesn't give the user enough control over their safety.

  1. From the "Dashboard" screen, select "Edit Profile" (located on the right side of the page).
  2. Under "Privacy", deselect "Show my real name" and "Show my email address".
  3. Make sure that Birthday, IM Username, City/Town, and Work information is blank, or at least filled in with generic, difficult to trace information (like putting your location as state and country, but not city, or having a secure Instant Messenger profile or secondary one.)

Diaryland

From what we have seen, Diaryland offers very little control over who can and can't leave Comments or notes. If you are looking for an online journal site, we would advise against going with Diaryland because it doesn't give the user enough control over their safety.

  1. From the main screen, click on "Edit your profile" (located on the left side of the page).
  2. Click the link for "Change your profile's name and location". At the bottom of the page, clear out your Instant Messenger information or insert only information that is for a secured Instant Messenger profile or a secondary one.)
  3. Go back to the edit profile screen, and click on the link for "Edit your age and where you live". Make sure that no town or city is listed.

Diary-X

From the main screen, select "Options Panel" (located on the left side).

AOL Blogs

If you don't want a reader to send Comments to your Journal, you can block him or her from doing so:

  1. Click the Edit Your Journal button, a form appears that allows you to change virtually all aspects of your Journal.
  2. In the Options and Permissions section of the Edit your Journal form, click Manage Permissions.
  3. Enter the screen name of the person you want to block and click Block
  4. Repeat this procedure to block any other readers you don't care to hear from.
  5. When you're ready, click Save.
    (Note that you can't block non-members from commenting on your Journal, because you can only block by screen name.)
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Social Media Safety

MySpace

  1. To Block someone, view their profile and click "Block User" and/or remove them from your Friends list so they can no longer post to your profile or journal.
  2. To remove someone from your Friends List, start by clicking on "Home" in the top navigation menu from any MySpace web page.
  3. Once on your personal home page, scroll down to "My Friend Space" and click on "Edit Friends." You will then see a listing of every single person currently on your Friend List.
  4. Next to each name, you will see "Delete Friend." By clicking "Delete Friend," that person will be removed from your Friend List. You may only delete one person at a time.

Facebook

Are you sure you've checked *all* your Facebook settings? The last time they updated their privacy rules, they reverted a lot of settings back to Default, which means *everyone* (even if not on Facebook) can view your profile and everything in it. To make changes, do the following:

  1. Go to Account, then Account Settings, then under the Settings tab click on Account Security. This one it totally up to you, but if you login to Facebook from one computer all the time and not your smartphone/cell, you may want to turn this ON. It's also interesting to check this to see when you last logged in and from where.
  2. Under the Notifications tab, uncheck any you don't want to get an email or text/SMS about
  3. Under the Facebook Ads tab, Change the pulldown menu from My Friends to No One
  4. Now go to Account at the top right of the browser, then Privacy Settings.
  5. Under Basic Directory Information, click on View Settings
  6. The default is Everyone. Change this to what you prefer, usually Friends Only.
  7. If you want to see how your profile looks if a complete stranger not on your Friends list tries to look at it, click on Preview My Profile near the top right.
  8. Go back to Privacy
  9. You should have a check next to "Customized Settings." If you don't and it's checked next to Recommended Settings, click on Customize Settings and make the appropriate changes. Even if you have checked "Customized Settings," click on Customize anyway.
  10. The important new one here is Places I Check Into. Unless you want Everyone or your Friends to see anywhere you check in from on your smartphone/cell (which is automatic) change to Only Me (I wish there was a No One selection here).
  11. Also uncheck the Include Me In "People Here Now" after I check in or it will show you, your profile photo and where you are to your friends and others.
  12. Check all the settings to make sure they are what you want. Most people change those to Friends Only.
  13. Next to Things others share, click on Friends can check me into Places and Disable that unless you really want your friends to tell everyone else where you are when you're not home.
  14. Once you're done here, go Back to Privacy and click on Applications and Websites
  15. Make appropriate changes here and the last two, Instant Personalization and Public Search should be unchecked unless you want the whole Internet world to know what you're doing and see your profile. To get rid of any Apps, Games or Websites, click on Remove unwanted or spammy applications and make changes there, or you can Turn off all apps.
  16. Click on Back to Privacy, then under Block Lists, click on Edit lists and make any changes there.
  17. You can also doublecheck your Applications settings by clicking on Account, then Application Settings and remove or edit the apps you've approved.

You should be all set now!

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Chat Rooms

Yahoo

  1. Click on the pencil graphic underneath the chat text box
  2. This brings up a separate window called Preferences
  3. Change the options to "Ignore all invitations to join a room" and "ignore private messages from strangers"
  4. Uncheck "Pop up new private messages"
  5. You can also add certain usernames to an Ignore list by click on "View ignore list"

AOL Chat

To choose chat settings:

  1. On the AOL toolbar, click Settings.
  2. Click the Index tab, and then click Chat Preferences from the alphabetical listing.
  3. Choose your preferred settings and then click Save.

To use the Ignore feature:

Notes: The Ignore feature does not transfer from chat room to chat room. In serious cases of offensive behavior in public chat rooms, click the Notify AOL button and report the person to the AOL Community Action Team.

To save chat room conversations to a log file:

  1. Enter the chat room or auditorium you want to log.
  2. On the File menu above the AOL toolbar, click Log Manager.
  3. In the Chat Log section of the dialog box, click Open Log. Note the name of the log file and click Save.
  4. Participate in the chat, or do other things online (you must keep the chat room window open).
  5. When you are ready to stop logging the conversation, click Log Manager on the File menu.
  6. In the Chat Log section, click Close Log.

Notes: You can only log open chat rooms; if you move to a new chat room, the log file will record the conversation in the new chat room.

To read the log file:

  1. On the File menu above the AOL toolbar, click Open.
  2. Navigate to the folder where the log file you created is stored.
  3. Double-click the log file to open it.

Notes: If the log file you created is too large to be opened by the AOL software, use word processing software to open the file.

If someone in a chat room is unmanageable or offensive, the owner of the room can remove that screen name from the room by using the Eject feature. Ejected screen names receive a message and cannot rejoin the chat.

To eject a screen name, in the screen name list on the chat window, click the screen name of the person you wish to eject, then click EJECT MEMBER. The screen name is removed from the chat and cannot re-enter.

If you accidentally ejected someone from your chat room, simply click the EJECTED tab located next to the PEOPLE HERE tab on the right hand side of your chat room. Click the screen name to highlight it, then click the ALLOW MEMBER button.

Kids Only and Teens chat hosts can eject members from the room by clicking the EJECT MEMBER button, and the hosts can close the room by clicking the CLOSE ROOM button.

You must be the owner of the chat room to eject someone. If you are not the owner, you could try sending an instant message to the owner (the screen name with the lightning bolt icon next to it) asking for the member to be ejected.

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