I have some younger family members, and friends with young family members, so I wanted to lay out a couple of common sense ground rules for using social media as a young woman, or a single woman.
Unfortunately, there are certain segments of the population that are targeted online as well as in social media, and young women are one of those. Social media can open you up to stalking or other dangerous situations that you need to be aware of.
* As a matter of note, if you use Twitter or social media tools for business purposes, obviously these rules will change, but know why you want to change them.
Here is one of the first things to know. Your twitter profile has two different names associated with it. The first name is your twitter handle; This is important as a tool to explain what you will be tweeting about. I would highly recommend you do not use your first and last name as your handle. The exception would be if you are a public speaker, politician, or someone who drives business based on their name. But overall, don’t go with your first and last name like @JohnDoe. The reason for this is that you become searchable. You would be surprise how much information you are putting out there
The second name is set in your profile settings on Twitter as your name. It is the name that shows up above your twitter handle on your profile. Once again, do not use your first and second name. You can feel free to personalize this, but make sure you don’t make it easy for people you don’t know to find you. If you play lacrosse, instead of using your given name Jane Doe, try using something like Jane LaxGirl
I’m going to start with this: Never Check In To Where You Live! There are other rules I’ll cover, but this is key. I don’t care if you’re a 300 lb weight lifting guy, or a high school cheerleader, do not check in to your house. There are too many crazy people out there to tell everyone where you live.
Let me say, I like Foursquare. I use it to check in, try to become mayor and get discounts or recommendations on places. However, there are a couple of places I never check into.
First: I never check into my home. I don’t want everyone on Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare knowing where I live. And women should not want them to either. Having someone show up outside your window with a boombox works in a movie, but if it’s some random guy from twitter it becomes creepy, and possibly dangerous, real quick.
Second: Don’t check into school or work. Anything that marks a repeating action that you do every day makes you a target. If you show up in the same place every day then so can someone else. Don’t make it easy for stalkers or creepy bastards.
Third: Even if your checking into something without a defined address, and think you’re being sneaky by hiding your location, you’re not. Don’t rename your house / work / school something else thinking other people can’t find out where it is. Foursquare is a location based service. It automatically pulls your location from your phone, and maps it on the website. Trust me, you’re not sneaky, creepy guy just found you.
Once again: Never check in to your home!
I’m going to lay this out in depth on another post, but there are plenty of blogs or guides to manage your Facebook security out there. If you’re female, single or otherwise, you are a target.
Hide your posts, photos and page from anyone that isn’t a friend, or at most, a friend of a friend.
Make sure you have your Facebook page set to only be found by people in your network, or friend of friends. This will stop random creepy guys from finding you, and trying to add you, which leads me to my next point.
Do not accept friend requests from someone you haven’t met in person before. Your chances of actually talking to the person you think you are, aren’t great.
You Wish ! Reality!
Overall, social media is fun and a great way to learn about, and keep up with your friends. However, there are pitfalls that need to be addressed and watched. Have fun, but be safe!