Monday, August 19, 2013

Social Media Monday—How Much is Too Much to Stay Safe online?

As writers we know the importance of developing an online presence, but is there such a thing as too much information out there?


The result of too much information online can range from the irritating to the dangerous. But it is possible to be smart and still have an online presence that will garner you the right kind of reader notice.

So how much is too much to stay safe online? Anything that lets your online presence collide with your physical presence without you managing the connections. 

Here are some tips to help you stay out of trouble:
  • Have boundaries firmly established in your own mind—BEFORE something happens. That way, when someone get too familiar, you’ll be ready to do more than just feel vaguely uncomfortable. So often I talk to writers who have a cyber-stalker and they’re not even certain whether they should be concerned or not.
  • Trust your instincts. I cannot emphasize this one strongly enough. If someone makes you uncomfortable, act on your feelings.
  • Don’t friend/follow/or otherwise engage someone who isn’t willing to post a picture and/or give out reasonable information.
  • Don’t use an social media networks and/or settings where you check in at places. There is no good reason or someone to know where you are generally. If you’re at a conference or a big event, you can let people know you’re there if you choose, but don’t leave your safety to a computer program.
  • Turn OFF your location settings for your phone, digital camera, ereader and tablet. Otherwise, any picture you take with those devices could have an imbedded code that gives the latitude and longitude of where the picture was taken. This is especially true if you post pictures of children (your own or even grandkids). Don’t make it easy for a predator to map out your location.

What should you do when something makes you uncomfortable?
The biggest thing is do NOT be tempted to be polite when you’re worried. This is similar to following your instincts in that we often push down our uncomfortable feelings for the sake of being polite. If someone is tweeting to you, sending you repeated Facebook messages, or contacting you in any way that makes you uncomfortable, don’t ignore your feelings.
  • First, confront the person making you uncomfortable and request they respect your boundaries.
  • If they don’t adhere to your guidelines, immediately block them from the social media networks where they are contacting you.
  • Finally, report them to the social media network(s) where the infraction occurred.

This isn’t something you should fool around with, but it’s also something you shouldn’t be worried about. Taking these steps will keep you safe and give you the boundaries you need to stay safe online.

What steps do you take to stay safe? Have you ever felt uncomfortable by a contact? If so what did you do?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. Good advice, Edie. How about safe-guardng one's work, particularly a website/blog? I've noticed that some sites have a copy write symbol on the bottom, while many do not. I'd think that if any one wanted to "borrow" material that badly and unscrupulously, they would just ignore the symbol anyways. I also think it's just a chance you take, but perhaps I'm wrong.

    1. Elaine, there's really no way to guarantee someone won't steal things you have online. The good news is that anything you write (or create in tangible form - like art, photos, etc) is covered by the copyright law the moment you create it. You can add a statement about copyright on your site, but most people won't notice it. And unscrupulous folks won't care. It's a risk, but one I'm definitely happy to take! Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

  2. As with anything, there is a trade-off between enjoying and safety. You have to find the balance that you are comfortable with.

    1. Tim, you are exactly right. Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

  3. Thank you for your advice. Sometimes we get so involved we forget what is lurking just under the surface if we don't watch out. When it happens we can be unaware like a rabbit in the open field or aware like the rabbit under the bushes. The enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy, but our God is faithful to protect and secure. Thank you for being used by Him to give us a good warning cry...."Watch out. If nothing happens then fine, but if something does this is what you do.

  4. Hi Edie,

    I really poured myself over your post. I know that I am guilty of being too nice, and then they really get spooky. Perhaps a class in how to say no to these creeps might be in order? I know I'm also a confessional poet, so sometimes I worry about my blog, though the security seems to be much higher than it is on Facebook, for example, what do you think?


  5. Hi Edie -

    When a man sends a friend request that I don't know, I look at his information. Does he say he's interested in women, has only women's pictures, or is he a nice family guy? Also, does he come from a foreign country? I'm also careful about requests from the world's hot spots.

    Thanks for the tips.

    Susan :)

  6. Great advice. I seldom have a problem, but if it's a male FB friend and I get a personal message that I feel the least bit uncomfortable with, I block them. You've just taken away all the guilt for the three or four times I've done this. Thanks, Edie.

  7. I found this post very interesting and had never considered it before. I have four daughters and never taught them to be afraid of anything. Maybe I should have. Attending my first Writer's Conference was a bit of a shock. I was staggered by the ratio of females to males. I have since got into gourds and attending events for people interested in gourds and am finding the same issue. As an ex-skydiving instructor, I tend to jump into things totally. No pun intended. Thanks to this post I am realizing there is a line between enthusiasm and being annoying. What I consider being involved some might consider harassment. Sort of like sharing your faith with someone who does not want to know about God. You can be annoying and not realize it. This shoe fit to comfortably and I want to apologize to anyone I personally might have made uncomfortable. When I feel moved about something I jump.(Sorry about the pun thing) That includes sharing advice and seeking the best advice I can get so I can grow as a writer. Having also spent thirteen years in the military I tend to forget friendships are not automatic and need to be developed over time. Unlike in the military where you are required to put your life in the hands of someone you don't know. On my own behalf as a Sky diving instructor, I never had a student I taught refuse to make a first jump. So in conclusion I may be strange, different and at times pushy,(when I think I am right/write) my interest is strictly limited to writing. I am like any faithful dog though, pat me on the head and you have my full attention, if you want it or not. I hope many of the females at the conference read this, because all I want for any of them is God's best, the same as I pray for my daughter's.