In the modern world of the internet and the concerns of internet safety and being aware that a lot of young people read my website, I have a couple of concerns I would like to share with you. It worries me that some of the questions I have received have been sent with email addresses linking back to the individual person's full name. I've also noticed that some people are very forth coming with personal information about themselves. Now I know I am not a sleazy fifty year old predatory male looking for people to con and prey on, (I'm a thirty something non predatory female actually) but that isn't the point - how do YOU know that? Think about it, I could have nicked the picture of myself off the net, written a load of twaddle to get you interested and then started using the information I glean from enthusiastic young witches for dodgy purposes. (I didn't, it really is me, but you see my point, anybody can say anything and pretend to be anyone they want...)
The anonymity of the internet is both a blessing and a curse. And it is so easy to be conned. Its easy to be told that you would benefit more from meeting in person (RUBBISH!) or you'll get a better answer if you tell loads of info about yourself (FRAUDSTERS!) or even sex magic and nudity are the answer to your problems (PERVERTS!)
I'd really like some of you to think about how you use the net. If you are going to contact someone on a website, why not set up a separate email address that says nothing about who you are. So if you make contact with someone who makes you uncomfortable you can delete it and move on. And if a webform says you MUST give your full name and you MUST give your full address (barring legit sites where you are making credit card purchases) then to be honest I would give them a wide berth. In fact, if anyone ever asks for your full address on the net I'd just avoid them completely.
So, just to put my mind at rest that I've done my bit for internet security, here are my five website pledges and my five top internet safety tips.
My site pledges
1. I will NEVER ask for your real name, address, phone number, school, place of work or other identifying information. If you do accidentally send this to me I will destroy it securely. I will not share this personal information from myself with you either.
2. I will NEVER ask for a picture of you.
3. I will NEVER ask to meet you. Nor am I afraid will I agree to meet you if you ask to meet me. Internet security works both ways!
4. I will NEVER answer questions of a sexual or adult content on the site.
5. I will NEVER contact you without you asking me to. I reply to your email confirming when your question has been answered and I reply to any subsequent emails but I do not use your email address for further contact once your question has been answered.
My five top internet safety tips
1. NEVER agree to meet anyone on the net who asks you to. Doesn't matter if you are nine or ninety, it is foolhardy and dangerous.
2. It is a guarantee that any picture you send to ANYONE will appear on the internet somewhere. Keep your photos private and only put them on sites where you can control who views them. NEVER EVER EVER send a photo to someone who asks you for one. Remember, they can use that photo to fake an identity to trap other people.
3. Tell as little as possible about yourself and stick to the topic at hand. If somebody starts asking you questions that don't involve the main topic, avoid them.
4. Don't believe ANYBODY is who they say they are. Sadly there are foul perverts who pretend to be teenage girls to win the trust of real teenage girls. Its horrible but its true. Just because someone says they are so and so aged whatever doesn't mean they are.
5. Take EVERYTHING you read on the net with a hefty pinch of salt. A lot of it is rubbish and the vast majority of what you read is just somebody's opinion. Don't believe all that you read, in fact don't believe most of what you read!
Safety first. It may be a cliche but in the case of the internet, its the truth.........
http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=download&id=1201945 (Billy Alexander)
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