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Oversharing Online Can Lead to Cyberbullying: How to Stay As Private As Possible

October 2016 by Expert

Brianna Wu is an American female game developer who was driven out of her home two years ago by death threats and abuse on Twitter by the members of GamerGate community. The last straw that made Ms. Wu leave her home was a tweet showing that her home address was detected by bullies.

Oversharing personal information online ­ such as one¹s home address - is one of the reasons why cyber-bullying can come into the physical world and truly threaten people¹s lives and property. Cyberbullying persecutes the victim everywhere they go, and even their home cannot be a refuge anymore.

Even if one avoids posting their personal data online, such as their social security number, it can be recreated by an algorithm that uses person¹s private data and place of birth (usually shared on Facebook). A person¹s medical records can be detected by combining their zip code and date of birth.

The privacy paradox shows that even though people express serious privacy concerns and fear identity theft, they still tend to reveal their personal details online for small rewards or for the sake of creating their online persona.

NordVPN is a Virtual Private Network provider that stands firmly against all forms of cyberbullying, and has a goal of educating the public about what each person can do to stay as safe online as possible.

1. Understand that no one is an exception from cyberbullying or identity theft. According to research, people believe that identity theft often takes place online, but they are very sceptical about it happening to them ­ as one extensive study shows, 56% respondents didn¹t think about the likelihood of identity theft happening to them.

2. Realize that everything you post online, will stay online. Tweets or photos that one posts as a college student will still be there when they are a company director down the road. Therefore, online privacy might have a different value to the same person after some years. To stay protected, don¹t post anything now that you might regret later. To avoid blackmail or extortion, don¹t share personal or embarrassing photos with anyone.

3. Avoid sharing personal data on Facebook. Do not enter your address or phone number on Facebook where it can be visible to anyone. Do not create status updates sharing vulnerable information, such as showing that you are on vacation and your house is empty.

4. Don¹t overshare feelings, not only data. According to one study , people who share their feelings on social media often get bullied, while others look on and allow harassment to happen. It¹s more advisable to share personal feelings in close and friendly circles than publicly.

5. Protect your location. Don¹t show your actual location by using a VPN. A VPN is a Virtual Private Network that hides your IP address and your location. By connecting to another country¹s server, you can set your location to virtually any place in the world. NordVPN is one of the most advanced VPN service providers in the world as it uses leading industry encryption methods and keeps no customer logs.

6. Protect your passwords. Some forms of cyberbullying include targeted hacking and identity theft, which means securing your data is of utmost importance. Exercise caution and, among other things, secure your passwords. A password could be a mix of characters and special symbols, and they should never be shared with anyone. It¹s always advised to change password s in order to stay safe online, and that means having to use a unique password for each site or account. 1Password for Families is an app that allows a family to share passwords, credit cards, and other sensitive information. The app remembers everything, keeps the information safe and signs one into their favorite sites with one click.

7. Understand the dangers of free public Wi-Fi. Cafes, shops, and even school cafeteria offer unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Users need to be especially cautious when connecting to these networks ­ as they can easily be monitored. Hackers can easily position themselves as a Wi-Fi hotspot or use special software to steal data from unprotected networks. One of the best ways to safely use public Wi-Fi is by installing a VPN.

8. Educate children and teens about cyberbullying. 42 percent of teens with access to Internet say they have been victims of cyberbullying. Besides not sharing their private information online, teens, who are more vulnerable to personal attacks and prone to hurting themselves, should be taught basic tactics of dealing with a cyberbully. The tactics include not responding to bullying messages, blocking the bully and reporting the incident. Schools should have systems in place that allow easy and efficient cyberbullying reporting.

Cyberbullying is a huge problem for anyone using the Internet ­ and that includes teens, children, adults, all countries and all professions. Unfortunately, it cannot be avoided, because cyberbullying is not caused by technology ­ its source is human behavior, and technology only enhances it. The best way to protect oneself is to stay as private online as possible.

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