By: Arjan Warya (Junior)
It’s no surprise that our top focus is Human Trafficking this year with Santa Clara and the greater Bay Area hosting Super Bowl 50. Yet, as teenagers, one may ask how WE are affected. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life as teenagers, we really do not take in account how human trafficking could very easily engulf our life. Personally, as bad as it may sound, social media revolves around my entire life, whether it is Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook. Now, you may be asking how you can ever fall in the trap of human trafficking through social media. Well, in reality, the possibilities are endless. Online safety is a major key in staying safe from potential traffickers. By using these simple five steps listed below, you can ensure yourself to be safe from the malicious predators online. [Source: Polaris Project’s Staying Safe Online]
1) Privacy Settings
When posting on social networking sites, double check privacy settings and remove any geographical information, such as school name or city, or automatic GPS tags on photographs or photograph-based websites.
When posting on social networking sites, be cautious not to provide unnecessary information regarding your daily activities or close friends and family.
3) Block Unknown People
Consider blocking suspicious followers, and ”Unfriending”/”Unfollowing” all of your people you don’t know. Blocking a user from a social network site provides extra levels of privacy and security. Always consider that anything shared on a social networking site can eventually find its way to a suspicious follower and/or someone that might pass on this information, even innocently.
4) New Email/Usernames
Choose a gender neutral, non-specific username that is not similar to one you have used before. Don’t reference favorite hobbies or birthdates in your username, or anything that might alert a trafficker to your identity. [i.e. soccergirl13]
5) Delete Search/Browser History
Search engines track your online searches and this information can be accessed by others using the same computer. If you are concerned that your trafficker will see what you have been searching for online, is important to clear your search history after each session. Search engines track your online searches and this information can be accessed by others using the same computer. If you are concerned that a suspicious follower will see what you have been searching for online, is important to clear your search history after each session.
Essentially, human traffickers and predators online are looking for one main thing: information or something to hold against you. Traffickers use tactics of blackmail to harass and coerce their victims into doing whatever they please. It is very important to understand that we must take precautions online, before it is inevitably too late.
Make the smart choice to stay safe online to remain safe. Stay tuned as we have more information coming out soon. Please visit the Polaris Project and FBI’s website for more tips on tightening up your online identity.