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sepia

staying safe on the internet

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Privacy-wise, CB is like a support group that meets in a storefront window.  If we put up brown paper for privacy, those who need us will never find us.  As such, we continue to meet in plain view, though the occasional voyeur may pass by.  To preserve anonymity (for those who feel it important), we urge you to dress uncharacteristically, keep your mask on, and don't give anyone a roadmap to follow you home.  Common sense should keep you safe.

I personally recommend the following measures:

NO REAL NAMES.  Not you, not your ex, not your kids, not the town where you were born.  And NO LAST NAMES EVER, unless you're okay with being located in the real world.  Small businesspeople, etc tend to care less about being "tracked" by their online friends.

NO PINPOINT LOCATIONS.  It's okay to say you live in NY, for example, because there are millions of people there, but don't tell us you live in Dapp AB, population twenty-three (likely including some dogs), and expect true anonymity if the postman comes here over Prozac.

FUDGE THE DETAILS.  We don't mean for you to lie about everything, but it's a good idea to change little identifiers around now and again.  If you want to mention the make of your car for literary effect, choose another car in the same class.  If you're talking about coming home, say you went down the steps to your apartment, rather than climbing to your upper duplex.  If it isn't important but could be used to identify you, you might want to change some of these details.  We don't want you to feel like you have to lie -- you don't -- but we do want you to feel safe.

NO NUMBERS.  Give someone your DOB and your ZIP code, and someone smart can find you.  NO ZIP CODES falls under NO PINPOINT LOCATIONS, but watch birthdays and such too, kay?  Yours, your so's, your kids'... birthdates (especially years) are trackable by the intelligent & fixated, with a few other details.

DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR ADDRESS to anyone.  ANYONE.  I recommend procuring a PO box or something if you want to mail things via snail mail to internet friends.

DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR HOME PHONE NUMBER unless you have a very good reason for it.  NEVER put it in a public place (like the board or chat), ONLY in private communication, like email or PM.  Cell phones are less risky, but still, ONLY SHARE THIS INFO PRIVATELY, NOT PUBLICLY.

PICTURES are iffy.  If you do not want to be identified, I advise against sharing them.  If you're a little freer, then share away.  Pictures won't do anything to help someone find you in the great ocean of global humanity, but if you do give out personal location data, a picture would make it easier for a stalker to identify you.

There are probably a few other personal security preferences I've forgotten, but these are the basics.  No names, no numbers, no locations, and probably no pictures.  This is my idea of common sense.  Others may disagree.  If you think my suggestions are useful, use them.

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Sounds very common sense to me. Those general rules will apply to ANY forum, board, chatroom, etc.

Practice safe web.

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