Social media can sometimes be a controversial subject. Many people thoroughly enjoy the online social environment, others avoid it completely, and some mainly just use it as a platform for their business. (Cough, cough… me… cough.) Whatever your preference may be, two main things are true and important; social media has the potential to be a fantastic tool for communication or to promote a business, and social media used carelessly can be a major threat to your safety. We (Impact Defense) are an organization for self defense so I'm not going to go into detail about the business or communication aspect of the online community. However, I do fully intend for the next few paragraphs (if you bear with me) to help you take the necessary steps to keep yourself safe online.
First things first, privacy settings. Pretty much any social site has some form of privacy setting to allow you to keep your personal information to yourself. Whatever site(s) you use make a point of learning about its privacy settings and options so as not to give out info such as; email, phone number, current location, or home address. I would recommend not inputting your home address into any social media, as well as keeping your location turned off unless necessary. Another thing I would recommend for your safety, is to not friend people you do not personally know, even if it says that friends you do personally know have them added. This helps prevent stalking, cat fishing, theft, and cyberbullying.
This brings me to my next point. Be careful what you post and comment. You may be tempted to think that the online world is not the “real world”. Please do yourself a favor and throw that idea out the window because even though there might be a screen separating you from the two-dimensional world of keyboard warriors and profile stalkers, that “harmless” on screen encounter may very quickly turn into an off-screen problem. To give you a couple examples: in 2017, a Missouri detective released that a serial killer used his victims social media posts to see what bar they were going to. He used this information to be there before his target and wait for the opportune time to strike. Not only did his victims post their plans before the fact, the posts revealed their location, and based on the nature of the outing, that they would be impaired by alcohol or drugs at some point that night. All the killer had to do was watch and wait. Another example: Two teenage girls got into a heated argument in a comment section. The next time they met in person the argument carried into their face-to-face conversation and became so heated that one of the girls pulled out a knife and repeatedly stabbed the other ultimately resulting in her death hours later in a hospital. Our last example is a family from California ,whose home was burglarized after they posted on Facebook that they arrived at their hotel for vacation. And by burglarized I mean that the burglars pulled a u-haul up to the home and loaded up their furniture, mattresses, art, electronics, and everything else of value they could. Thankfully in this instance the culprits were caught and incarcerated, but that’s not always the case.
In summary, you need good privacy settings. Don’t post your plans, location, address, school, your children’s school, weekly schedule, or friend people you don’t personally know to be trustworthy. Don’t be an instigator or fire fueler in the comment section. Any of these could risk your safety.
Stay Alert, Stay Safe, and Train Hard.