Posts tagged ‘Twitter’

Can Online Child Safety Go Too Far?

I recently read about a software program billed as an internet safety tool for parents. The program, SpectorSoft is described below:

“Spector works by taking snapshots of whatever is on the computer screen and saving the snapshots to a hidden location on the computer’s hard drive. Spector can automatically take a picture of the computer screen as frequently as once per second or snapshots can be triggered by user activity. Additionally, Spector records every web site visited and features a world-class keystroke recorder that captures every key users type on the computer keyboard, including passwords.”

Does this description make anyone else a little uneasy? This software essentially amounts to legal spyware. Although I realize that parents want to keep their children safe online, recording every single movement and keystroke seems like a gross breech of parent/child trust. Asking your child for their Facebook password is one thing, but obtaining it though spyware seems like quite another.

At what point does monitoring your children’s online activity cross the line from sincere concern to creepy surveillance? The distinction is important because your children can feel your sincere concern, but will resent your creepy surveillance.

Here are some tips that might help your child feel that you care about them rather than feeling like you want to control them:

  1. Join the social networks your children are on and “follow” them or become their “friend.” Insist that adding you as a friend or follower is required if they are going to use the sites. This accomplishes two things. First, it allows you to monitor what your child is posting without being overbearing. Second, it forces you to learn the technology. Knowing the way social media functions and how it is used gives you an insight into the way that your child uses it and can breed greater understanding between the two of you.
  2. Check your browser history regularly, and let your child know that you will be checking it. A browser history is not a complete record of everything your children do online, but it can give you an idea of the websites they frequent. As well, if you are regularly monitoring browser history, you will know when the history is erased. A deleted browser history is a red flag, and gives you the opportunity to talk to your child about what was erased and why. Talking with your children about a discrepancy gives you the chance to express your concern for them and show them that you trust and love them while reinforcing standards about inappropriate internet content.
  3. If necessary, apply a filter. Internet filters are not new or ironclad, but they are a recurring reminder to your children that you care about what they see and do online. Talk to your children about why you have applied the filter and what content you don’t want them to access. If they begin to wander into a questionable section of the internet, a filter message may be the very thing that reminds them of potential dangers and help them make the decision to turn around.

Overall, just remember that if you show your children trust, respect, and concern for their safety, while giving them freedom to surf the web—instead of acting like Big Brother—they will respect your efforts to keep them safe online.

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September 14, 2009 at 7:30 am Leave a comment

Facebook: Internet Shopping for Burglars

Through MSNBC, I recently found the results of a study by Legal & General, which found that 38% of Facebook and Twitter users post information about upcoming vacations. In addition, the study found that 13% of Facebook friends and 92% of Twitter followers are accepted by complete strangers. The study also found that young people (16-24 year-olds) were most likely to share detailed vacation plans through social media. But not only are people posting their vacation plans—practically out on the open—they are also raving about all the new stuff they just bought when they were gone, like a new flat-screen TV, iPhone, or laptop.

Internet Shopping for Burglars

What this boils down to is an environment ripe for criminals to find out when you will be out of the house and exactly what to steal—right from their own couch. Criminals no longer have to troll neighborhoods looking for mailboxes bursting with mail, all they have to do is follow people on Twitter or Friend them on Facebook, and they’ll know exactly who to hit and when.


Fight Identity Theft also just publish a story covering the ways that Facebook quiz developers can access your profile and your friend’s profiles when you agree to take a quiz made by them. Says the California ACLU:

“Even if your Facebook profile is ‘private,’ when you take a quiz, an unknown quiz developer could be accessing almost everything in your profile: your religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, pictures, and groups. Facebook quizzes also have access to most of the info on your friends’ profiles. This means that if your friend takes a quiz, they could be giving away your personal information too.”


What should your strategy be?

  • Don’t share anything online that you don’t want any stranger to see. If you don’t want strangers to call you, don’t post your phone number—it’s that simple.
  • Check your social media privacy settings. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites allow you to set security levels—use them!
  • Don’t broadcast to the world every time you leave the house. You may want people to know you’ll be out of town, but if it is really important for them to know, you can always send them an email or give them a call.
  • Bragging about big item purchases is a no-no. Do you walk through the mall telling everyone that you just bought the latest, greatest, fastest, $5,000 laptop? If not, then don’t do it online either. If someone is looking to steal one, you’ll be at the top of their list.

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September 9, 2009 at 7:30 am Leave a comment

Follow CrimeReports on Twitter

If you are already receiving free crime alerts and checking CrimeReports on a regular basis, you are already well informed about crime in your community. But now there are additional social media tools at your disposal to stay informed about your community and your personal crime prevention and safety strategies.

CrimeReports is now on Twitter. Go beyond the Neighborhood Crime Map and get additional stories and links to CrimeReports news, as well as issues in law enforcement and crime prevention. Follow us today at:

And, if you’re not already a fan, join us on Facebook at:

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September 4, 2009 at 11:22 am 1 comment

Online Safety for Grandparents

iKeepSafe blog just published a great article by Debra Berlyn and Jodi Lyons, emphasizing the importance of web safety for seniors. Usually when we discuss online safety, we talk about keeping our children away from pornography, sexual predators, cyber-bullying, and more, but the over-65 crowd needs information and protecting as well.

Online safety for seniors is not so much about keeping them away from sexual predators as it is about keeping them away from identity predators. As grandparents take an interest in the social networking activities of their children and grandchildren, it is important to help them create a healthy skepticism toward people they interact with online and not give out ANY personal information unless they personally know the person they are giving the information to.

Click here to get more great tips from the full article.

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August 28, 2009 at 10:35 am Leave a comment

20% of Employers Deny Citizens Access to Police through Social Media

According to ScanSafe, 20% of employers are now blocking social networking sites on their company internet. Granted, employers feel that Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and others social media websites can be horrible time wasters; however, they can also be great informational tools, especially if you follow your local government or law enforcement agency through them.

As more law enforcement agencies begin to use social media for critical information, these sites gain a legitimacy that they have not had in the past. Social media information is changing from “I’m eating a ham sandwich” to “Recent string of burglaries in Maplewood: make sure to lock your doors and windows.”

And as these sites begin to be more important sources of real-time information, employers could find themselves at the wrong end of a backlash from citizens and law enforcement who want to give and have access to vital information. For example, besides giving safety reminders, many police agencies will send out traffic information that gives citizens an idea of where accidents have been, so they can avoid them on the drive home. As well, some agencies have sent information through social media about school closings, city emergencies, and other important events that citizens need to know about as soon as possible.

Blocking access to this information could be an increasing concern for employers as more and more people and law enforcement agencies begin to communicate through social media and share legitimately important information.

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August 27, 2009 at 12:36 pm Leave a comment

Community Uses Social Media to Recover Stolen Bikes

The city of Boston and the Boston Police Department have teamed up to fight bike theft in the city and increase their ability to recover stolen bikes. Six weeks ago, the joint effort created a Facebook, Twitter, and email list for citizens. Community members can join any one of them and receive alerts when a stolen bike is reported. The alerts exist to encourage average citizens to be on the lookout for the bike that was stolen. Already the program has led to the recovery of two bikes in the area. Creators of the site plan to expand their reach through a possible iPhone application.


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August 27, 2009 at 12:30 pm Leave a comment

Social Media Club Gets Tips From Police

The Sacramento Social Media Club partnered with local police this past Tuesday, to discuss and share information on social media security and safety issues. Because social media is shifting the way we communicate, law enforcement has to figure out ways to help people stay safe online and use social media to catch criminals.

The meeting covered strategies for keeping your personal information safe online. For example, one presenter showed club members how to make photos private for select users. Another presentation focused on the “#1 Friend” program. The program advocates children adding their local police department as the #1 friend on MySpace. That way, any online predator viewing a child’s MySpace account will know that the child has a relationship with law enforcement and will report any suspicious activity. Hopefully, deterring any potential problems.

This is a great example of what police departments and community groups should be doing to help keep their citizens safe online. These types of community outreach programs educate older social media users and they provide parents with information and strategies for keeping their children safe online.

Keep your community safe by participating in and advocating for this type of community outreach in your neighborhood.


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August 21, 2009 at 11:16 am Leave a comment

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The views expressed in this blog are those of the individual contributing bloggers and may not necessarily reflect the official or actual opinions of CrimeReports, its parent company Public Engines, or any of its employees.


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