Practicing Internet safety

BY ANGELA BERENZAK

Clark County Health Department

Technology is an extremely valuable luxury. By accessing the internet, we can apply for jobs, stay in contact with family members and friends, and stay update to date on current events.

The benefits of technology are never-ending. However, there can be a downside to having the world at our fingertips. Once we post and share information, it is no longer our information, anyone can gain access to it, possibly even if we delete it.

Rainn.org offers a slew of tips to help you stay safe while using technology.

Know how to report, block, and filter content.  Learn how to filter which users or content you see, report harmful comments or content, and block those who are attempting to use technology to hurt others.

Personalize your privacy settings.  Think about non-traditional social media as well, such as your public transactions on Venmo or music activity on Spotify. These site-specific security pages can help you get started.

Pause before you post. Before you post, ask yourself if you are comfortable sharing this information with everyone who might see it. Content that contains personal information or your whereabouts could pose a safety risk. Even content that is deleted can sometimes be accessed by the website or through screenshots of the original post and could be used maliciously.

Turn off geolocation. Many social media sites or apps will request to access your location, but in most cases this isn’t necessary. You can still get the most out of your social media experience without sharing where you are while you’re there. Some sites may automatically make geotagged information public. When you “check in” on Facebook, update your Instagram story, or add a geotag to a Snapchat, these sites may share your exact location with people you may or may not trust with it.

Use a private Internet connection. Avoid public Wi-Fi connections, like those offered at coffee shops or airports, when using a website that asks for a password. Limit your social media usage to personal or private Wi-Fi networks, while using cellular data on your phone, or under the protection of a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Talk to your friends about public posts. Let your friends know where you stand on sharing content that may include personally identifying information, like your location, school, job, or a photo of you or your home. Respect each other’s wishes about deleting posts that may be embarrassing or uncomfortable. Always ask permission before you post something about another person, whether it mentions them indirectly, by name, or in a picture.

Report harassment or inappropriate content. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable online, you can report the interaction to the host site, often anonymously. If you do experience harassment or abuse through social media, consider taking screenshots immediately and saving them in case the content is deleted or removed from your view.

Look before you click. If you get a suspicious sounding message or link from a friend through social media, it’s best not to automatically click it. Your friend’s account may have been hacked, which could cause everyone in their contacts list to receive spam. If you’re not sure it’s spam, try contacting that person another way to ask if they meant to send you a link recently.

Pick strong passwords and update them frequently. This can help protect against someone who may be trying to sign on to your account for negative reasons like posting spam, impersonating you, or stalking.

Make privacy a habit by doing a regular social media privacy check-up. Once you’ve gone through the privacy settings in your social media accounts, set a reminder on your calendar to revisit them in three or six months. Companies may change policies or update their platforms which could affect how you would like to share your information online.

Information was obtained from: www.rainn.org/safe-media. Clark County Health Department provides programs for the entire family, including WIC, HANDS, family planning, well child care/immunizations and Freedom from Smoking.  For more information, call 744-4482 or visit our website at www.clarkhealthdept.org or on Facebook.