Tips for Improving Safety and Privacy on Social Networking
1. Review and limit your public information
Do you need to put your location in? Who would use it?
Should your date or birth be private?
Should your previous jobs and education be removed, if you only want to talk in support groups or keep track the news then you don’t need to include these.
Do your photos show private information to the world, such as your new car’s license plate, the outside of your house or what your children look like? If you moved house years ago perhaps these can be deleted now.
2. Review your “friends list” or “followers”
Consider un-friending or blocking anyone whose posts are disturbing… perhaps an old friend is posting “jokes” which make you uncomfortable, or maybe you accepted a friend request from someone with the same name as someone you knew and they turned out to be someone different. Remember you can usually still exchange messages with those on your friends list, especially if you are in the same groups or communities.
Some people have a lot of friends who they rarely connect with – how about asking people to comment if they want to stay on your friends list? Those reading your posts will be able to reply, and you will have a good idea who doesn’t really read your messages anyway.
3. Does your name give out more information that it needs to?
Some people add their professional titles to their name but don’t use the account for work, or include initials or nicknames to make themselves easier to find. If you’ve already connected with those you know personally then maybe it’s time to change this setting, and go back to being one of thousands with the same name.
4. Check your privacy settings
Privacy and security options change regularly. Look for the settings and see how they are set right now. It’s not a good idea for all your messages or posts to be “public” and if you are using facebook look for “Who can see my stuff?” then Limit the audience for posts I’ve shared.
5. Choose a “strong” password or turn on “notifications”
Try your password here to check how easy it is for a hacker to access your account. Think about whether your password is saved on any mobile devices, and if the risk of theft (or loss) would give another person access too your information.
6. Difficult dates – a time to avoid social networking and email?
Trauma survivors often have particular dates when they are more likely to be vulnerable and more easily triggered, or when abusive people are likely to try to get in touch. Some examples might be around national holidays or Christmas, your birthday, or the anniversary of a major trauma. Give yourself permission to avoid things that may trigger you at this time, or simply avoid the computer altogether.
7. Ritual abuse survivors: an extra consideration
Abusive groups and abusive people are known to use social networking to “trigger” survivors. If you may have been subject to ritual abuse and have DID then the information you share online could be used to target specific identities in order to get you back in touch with your original abusers. Be very, very careful about what you share and do not be afraid to delete things shared in the past to prevent people building up a “picture” of your DID system. If you are sharing something about yourself, ask yourself WHY you are sharing, and IF you can be more vague and limit the details.
For example – talking about your emotions or how to handle triggers generally could avoid you describing a specific situation and a specific trigger.
8. Boundaries – setting and keeping boundaries are part of healthy relationships
You can decide how much to tell someone, you do not need to share the same amount of detail back to someone that they have shared with you. If you feel under pressure to tell someone detailed information you can “step back” and explain you don’t feel comfortable sharing those details right now. If you feel another person is sharing too much with you then you can suggest both of you share less detail, and explain why. It is not helpful if you accidentally trigger each other.
If you have dissociative identity disorder see if you can agree boundaries with the other identities – especially the younger ones – and consider what information is best shared in person, or by telephone rather than electronically. With DID sometimes an alter may try to keep secrets by punishing another alter for telling too much, for example self harming your body, so there are internal safety concerns as well. Safer places to share delicate information may be in your own journal, during therapy or in the form of art work rather than writing.
Facebook Privacy and Safety Guide
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) are a member of Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board, and have produced this guide to address privacy on Facebook and also provides safety tips and options in the event that someone is misusing the site to harass, monitor, threaten, or stalk. Many of the points in the booklet are relevant to twitter, google plus, tumblr, instagram or other social networking websites.
The guide is aimed at helping survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking control their safety and privacy to help prevent misuse of facebook by abusers, stalkers, and perpetrators to stalk and harass.
Download, read or print the NNEDV Facebook privacy and safety guide