The Technology Commons and the Red Zone campaign partnered up for a “Staying Safe on Facebook” seminar on Sept. 6.
Sara Smith from ClassTIPS and Jen Nickels from the Center for Service Learning hosted the presentation together. The Technology Commons has held other seminars about Facebook before, but this was the first time they have collaborated with the Red Zone awareness campaign.
“What we’re trying to do is promote healthy relationships,” Smith said. “It’s important to know how much you share online. That’s personal information at everyone’s fingertips.”
According to Nickels, 1 of out 3 women and 1 out of 10 men are victims of sexual assault, and 84 percent of those assaults are perpetrated by someone they know. Depending on your Facebook privacy settings, you may be sharing your location or other private information with people you just met.
“It’s about where you are and even where you aren’t,” said Nickels. “If everyone knows you are away from home on a vacation, you could be putting yourself at a greater risk for burglary.”
Smith added, “People don’t realize the power of location.”
She advised everyone online to “take ownership of your own information” and to be aware of potential safety threats.
For starters, Facebook users should monitor their friends list.
“It can be overwhelming, but it’s worth it,” said Smith. “It’s okay to be picky about adding friends. Facebook is for connecting with who you want to connect with.”
Facebook also allows you to customize your settings. Forming friend groups can help you decide who sees which pictures or statuses. You might not want everyone to know where you work or where to find you at any given point of the day. The chat function can also be narrowed down to include only a few select people.
Maintaining these privacy settings is especially important if you are having problems with harassment or digital abuse.
“Connect the red flags in life to the ones in technology, and know how to protect yourself from digital abuse,” said Nickels.
Facebook users should be mindful of what they post, too. Besides friends and family, employers might be looking at your profile.
“If you worry about something being questionable in 20 years,” said Nickels, “just don’t put it up.”
Smith will be hosting another Facebook seminar with Associate Director of Resource Services Sarah Carter on Sept. 13 at 3:30 p.m. in the Technology Commons. Smith also said that she is excited about an upcoming Halloween event, complete with games, prizes and “no-stressing” tips.
As for Red Zone, they have an awareness campaign coming up and are looking for volunteers. If you are interested, you can find more information about Red Zone events at www.wcu.edu/24473.asp.