Stay Safe Online WHILE You Build Your Platform

by Edie Melson

An online presence is important—but not
more than our safety!
As writers we
know the importance of developing an online presence, but is there such a thing
as too much information out there?
Absolutely!
The result of
too much information online can range from the irritating to the dangerous. But
it is possible to be smart and still have an online presence that will garner
you the right kind of reader notice.
So how much is
too much to stay safe online? Anything that lets your online presence collide
with your physical presence without you managing the connections. 
Here are
some tips to help you stay out of trouble:
Know what boundaries you’re comfortable with.
  • Have
    boundaries firmly established in your own mind—BEFORE something happens.
    That way, when someone get too familiar,
    you’ll be ready to do more than just feel vaguely uncomfortable. So often I
    talk to writers who have a cyber-stalker and they’re not even certain whether
    they should be concerned or not.
  • Trust
    your instincts.
    I cannot
    emphasize this one strongly enough. If someone makes you uncomfortable, act on
    your feelings.
  • Don’t
    friend/follow/or otherwise engage someone who isn’t willing to post a picture
    and/or give out reasonable information.
Do give away your physical location.
  • Don’t
    use an social media networks and/or settings where you check in at
    places.
    There is no good
    reason or someone to know where you are generally. If you’re at a conference or
    a big event, you can let people know you’re there if you choose, but don’t
    leave your safety to a computer program.
  • Turn
    OFF your location settings for your phone, digital camera, ereader and tablet.
    Otherwise, any picture you take with
    those devices could have an imbedded code that gives the latitude and longitude
    of where the picture was taken. This is especially true if you post pictures of
    children (your own or even grandkids). Don’t make it easy for a predator to map
    out your location.

What should
you do when something makes you uncomfortable?
Trust your instincts!
The biggest
thing is do NOT be tempted to be polite when you’re worried. This is similar to
following your instincts in that we often push down our uncomfortable feelings
for the sake of being polite. If someone is tweeting to you, sending you
repeated Facebook messages, or contacting you in any way that makes you
uncomfortable, don’t ignore your feelings.
  • First, confront the person making you
    uncomfortable and request they respect your boundaries.
  • If they don’t adhere to your guidelines,
    immediately block them from the social media networks where they are contacting
    you.
  • Finally, report them to the social media
    network(s) where the infraction occurred.

This isn’t something you should fool
around with, but it’s also something you shouldn’t be worried about. Taking
these steps will keep you safe and give you the boundaries you need to stay
safe online.

What steps do you
take to stay safe? Have you ever felt uncomfortable by a contact? If so what
did you do?
Edie Melson is an author, freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She’s the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, and the Senior Editor for http://www.NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.