Thursday, December 13, 2007

Today I Stalked Myself

Today as I was reading up on Internet safety, I got to thinking, how vulnerable am I? I've shared some information on the Web; I feel no need to hide my blog posts and comments. But I don't want someone going to my hometown address and harassing my parents, nor do I want companies stuffing their mailbox with junk mail. So I stalked myself. I'm pleased to report that my full home address can't be found on my social networking sites or anywhere else on the public web, and I've eliminated one reference to my neighborhood within my hometown.

Do you have anything online open to public view that you wouldn't want a stranger to see? I encourage you to stalk yourself, before someone else stalks you. Try this with your kids, too, and teach them about Internet safety.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mankind has Built Hands

Mankind has built hands
Of silicon and copper
Of myriad ones and zeroes
That reach across the world.

Hands serve and entertain us.
They beckon to temptation,
Applaud, or point in scorn.

Hands clasp in trust and friendship,
Build and hone tools together,
And even mend a patient's life.

As we reach across the world,
Do we lift our fellows up?
They still count on our hearts of flesh
To show compassion
With these hands mankind has built.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

It's Easy to Lie Online

Fooling computer systems usually takes some technical know-how, but using the Internet to fool other people is elementary. No authenticity checks keep me from setting up an email account under any name I choose to use, and then registering for social networking sites such as Facebook. Since I use any name, pictures, and information I choose, I could masquerade as practically anyone, imagined or real.

Adults as well as children need to exercise caution; some people we meet online may be disguising their identities or their true motives. A friend in need might ask to borrow money; an online friend, once she owes you money, might block you from ever seeing her log on again. In-person acquaintance reveals a person's tone of voice, facial expressions, and other nonverbal cues; only a great actor can fake these. Typing a lie is much easier.

There are some valid reasons, such as online dating, to meet and form friendships with people over the Internet. These activities require precautions. I'll emphasize this precaution: Before you entrust an individual with personal information that could be exploited, be sure that you have formed a sufficient friendship with that individual in person.