Are you concerned about using social media or having your privacy invaded? Do you fear being tracked by crazy people over the Internet because you’re a blue family? Moreover, are you interested in tips for social media and Internet safety?

While there are no foolproof safety methods for engaging cyberspace, there are options available to increase the benefits while decreasing risk.

Social media

  1. Be aware of security settings and use them accordingly. It is the difference of having the door to your home open or closed.
  2. If you participate in social media you have already agreed to publicly share information. (It’s in the fine print of your agreement.) How far and wide is established by you.
  3. Regardless of your settings, do not place anything on social media that would embarrass you or your family if published in the press. What you intend for private consumption can easily turn into public humiliation. You may not think your life has national interest, yet if you or your loved one becomes involved in a newsworthy event (OIS, etc.), the first place the press will look for details about your life will be social media.
  4. Consider using an alias that would be recognized by friends and family, but would not be associated to your blue family. For instance, use your middle in lieu of your last name. Or reverse your middle and first name as your online profile.
  5. If you have privacy settings for friends, and have a falling out with your “bestee,” it would be prudent to unfriend this person as they continue to have privileges to your information against your wishes.
  6. Report problems with Facebook and other mediums if you have issues.
  7. Sending or receiving threats over electronic means is just like doing it in person. Depending upon the words used and the totality of circumstances, this can be a crime. Regardless of the suspect location, jurisdiction for the offense can be your place of residence or business if that is where you received the threat. (Local law enforcement practice and applicable statutes will govern this.)
  8. As a public employee your First Amendment rights have limitations. Officers have been punished and terminated for CUBO (conduct unbecoming officer) and other misconduct related violations.
  9. Rule of thumb, if you don’t want your chief or sheriff to know what you’re posting, DO NOT post it. Gossip, hate, and anger spread like wildfire! So even if your department head does not engage in social media, he or she will likely hear about incendiary and salacious comments and pictures that are posted. And someone can permanently capture it with a screen shot even if you delete it.

Internet

  1. The Internet is a mysterious place to a novice, yet experts have no problem copying codes from messages, pictures, and video that you thought were private. Follow the advice of your grandparents, “When in doubt, don’t!”
  2. Public records are exactly as described—PUBLIC. Regardless how great your state is at protecting peace officer driver’s license and vehicle registration information, there is exposure through several others sources. For instance just about any record with your county of residence is public information, such as property taxes etc.
  3. Some “opt out programs” are legitimate while others are not. Several are simply a fraud to collect your data.
  4. Do not provide personal information to any source online that is unknown or trusted. As a recipient, never provide personal information via an email or telephone request from a company or organization that should already have it on file. Return their call to a trusted number to remedy the issue.
  5. Your computer leaves breadcrumbs everywhere it travels. Computer forensic experts have no problem sketching a map for others to see. Travel the World Wide Web as safely as possible!

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