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How to Avoid Predators on MySpace

3 of 8 in Series: The Essentials of Staying Safe on MySpace

Social networking on MySpace carries risks and responsibilities, which includes avoiding people who prey on others and cause problems. To stay safe on MySpace, you have to follow basic rules for your own protection.

  • Don’t set up private meetings to meet people you just happen to encounter on MySpace.

  • Don’t share any information (for example, your phone number or home address) that might allow people you meet on MySpace to track you down via other means.

  • Don’t post any sort of personal financial or identification information on MySpace, such as Social Security, credit card, or bank account numbers.

MySpace can be a fun place or a dangerous place — and applying common sense can make all the difference.

Don’t talk to strangers

When you get a mail message or IM from a MySpace user you don’t know, follow up — discreetly — by clicking the sender’s profile. If it doesn’t look like anyone you know, ignore the message and delete it. If it’s one of your friends hiding behind an anonymous profile, that person will eventually reveal his true identity. Otherwise, keep your contact to your friends.

Don’t use your real name

If privacy is a concern of yours, avoid using your real name or a known nickname in your profile. Opt for something that reflects one of your interests, like the name of your favorite sports team or a character from a movie. Anything that makes it difficult to track you down in the real world will work.

Don’t leave unwanted clues

You can take lots of precautions to keep your real name off MySpace, your contact information unshared, and your profile blocked from everyone except your friends. But you can also undermine every one of these safety steps by leaving unwanted clues on your profile. You might name your school in a blog entry or mention the name of your favorite dance club in a caption on your photo page. Take a look at any content you want to post to your MySpace page for clues like these that can sabotage your efforts to keep your profile private.

Don’t post anything you don’t want your mother to see

The information you put on your profile page could mean the difference between getting a lot of messages from strangers and getting none. Choosing a profile picture of yourself in your bikini with a “sexy” headline will attract more users trolling for dates (or something else) than a profile with a subtler photo and headline.

Play nice with others

To certain individuals, the anonymity that the online world affords is like an invitation to develop aggressive and threatening attitudes they wouldn’t get away with in the real world. Some people treat MySpace as an opportunity to start arguments and leave nasty comments for other users.

Nothing good ever came out of Internet fighting. Go for the Delete key or the Block User option when someone gets under your skin. Firing back might lead to offline issues that aren’t worth dealing with.

Don’t share your account

If you have a personal account, keep it personal:

  • Don’t let others jump on and send messages or leave comments under your account that you might have to explain later.

  • Don’t share your password with someone else.

  • If someone figures out your password and logs on to your account, use your Settings: Password screen to change the password to something new or cancel the account and create a new one.

Always sign out

Whenever you finish using MySpace, always click the SignOut link at the top of the page to end your session. If you don’t and your computer stays on, you’re still signed on. Staying signed on could give the next person to sit down at the computer full access to your MySpace account.

Use a separate e-mail address

Although it’s nearly impossible for anyone to get access to the e-mail address associated with your MySpace account, you can give it a little extra protection by using a separate e-mail account for all your MySpace activity. This option is especially useful if you have a school or business e-mail address you want to use, but which might reveal info you don’t want to share about yourself if it’s discovered as your link to MySpace.

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