Consider this a public service announcement.
I’ve been online a very long time, I had a Compuserve account, and AOL as well, before the World Wide Web. I was on dial up bulletin boards . My first email address dates back to 1993. Do a Google search on me – the first 9-10 pages of links are all about me. And these are all areas where I have voluntarily allowed my information to be shared.
This is not about privacy, about companies gathering information about you. This is about the information you allow to be published, that you yourself have made public,
Today, my girlfriend’s daughter found out that I was subscribed to her tweets. This outgoing 17-year-old found it creepy. And I can see why. But there was a larger point she hadn’t considered.
Anyone can follow you. Anyone. They can see your public tweets, see links and pictures you post. Your activity is wide open to anyone who chooses to follow you.
And while Twitter has a blocking feature, it only serves to make things a little more difficult. If someone goes to your public profile, they still see everything.
So why is this important, and why should a 17-year-old care? How about the case of Elliot Rodger? That’s the kid who went on a shooting rampage in Santa Barbara on May 23, 2014, killing six and injuring many more. Why?
Because he had been “friendzoned”. Because he felt he had been slighted and ignored by women who obviously didn’t recognize him as the “superior Alpha male” he considered himself to be. Because the pick-up lines he practiced didn’t get him attention from females he desired, he decided to punish them by going on a killing spree.
So what does this have to do with a 17-year-old girl’s Twitter account?
Anyone can follow you. Even another Elliot Rodger.
Let’s be clear – I’m talking about being careful about what you post onto publicly accessible forums.
Let’s imagine that you are in high school or even in college, and someone has decided that they like you. You may not have a clue who they are. But if you’re posting on Twitter, they can follow your day to day activity. You post you’re having lunch at Chipotle, or going to a movie, they might as well be standing next to you. And you don’t know it. They can stalk you and you wouldn’t have a clue. But in their eyes, you’re ignoring them. Treating them like dirt. That’s how they see it. All the while, you honestly don’t have a clue they’re even there.
So what are we supposed to do? Close ourselves off, stop sharing our lives?
No. We just need to be more conscious about our decisions when we post something online.
Use common sense. Twitter and Instagram are very different than Facebook. Facebook allows you to tightly control who sees your posts, and who is a “friend”. If you don’t post something with a Public setting, only your friends see it – and you have control over who is your friend.
Twitter and Instagram? A whole different animal. You don’t necessarily get notified when someone follows you, nor do you need to approve them. They broadcast publicly by default, and people can follow yo at any time. So you need to be much more aware of what you’re posting. Skip the location posts until you’re back home. think about how someone else might perceive what you’re posting. Be safe.