As many Kentuckians enjoy time off this week for spring break, Attorney General Jack Conway and his Cybercrimes Unit have an important reminder for those who use social-networking sites, like Facebook or MySpace. "Remember to 'think before you post,' said General Conway. "When you post vacation plans or upload pictures while on vacation, you are letting the world, and a potential home intruder, know that your home is vacant."
General Conway also reminds teens that what they post online can jeopardize both their safety and their future. "The words and images that you post on the Internet can affect admission to a college, future employment or even personal relationships with friends and family," said General Conway. "Before you post, ask yourself 'would I want my parents, principal, employer or a predator to see this?'"
A 2010 survey of college admissions officers found that more than 80 percent use Facebook to recruit students. Additionally, a Microsoft-sponsored survey from 2009 found that 75 percent of U.S. recruiters and human resources professionals say they are required to research job applicants online.
Guarding Against Identity Theft
Investigators in General Conway's Cybercrimes Unit also remind Kentuckians to protect themselves against identity theft. Posting something as simple as your birth date can make you a target of identity thieves, spammers or even stalkers. Cyberpredators can use your birth date, address or even your interests or hobbies to find out additional information about you or to become an online friend. The less personal information you put on social networking sites, the better.
To stay safe online, Attorney General Conway encourages parents and kids to follow these simple tips:
Tips for Parents
- Be a "friend" to your child on social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace.
- Ask to see their profile page to make sure it does not contain personal information that could compromise their safety.
- Monitor your child's online activities and keep kids out of chat rooms unless they are monitored.
- Keep the computer in a public area of the home such as a family room or kitchen.
- Warn your child to never go without you to meet a person they have only met online.
Tips for Kids
- Protect your password and make sure you really know who someone is before you allow them to be an online friend.
- Put everything behind password protected walls, where only friends can see.
- Blur or morph your photos a bit so they won't be abused by cyberbullies or predators.
- Don't post anything you wouldn't want your parents, principal or a predator to see.
- Remember, what you post online stays online—forever.
- Not everyone you meet online is who they say they are.
Created in June 2008, General Conway's Cybercrimes Unit has launched nearly 270 child pornography investigations and seized more than 300,000 child pornographic images and videos from the Internet. The unit is also a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC). Additionally, General Conway and his staff have presented more than 100 cybersafety programs reaching tens of thousands of Kentucky kids and their parents.
For additional information on cybersafety in Kentucky, visit General Conway's Cybersafety Page at http://ag.ky.gov/cybersafety/ . To report cyber abuse, visit the CyberTipline or call 1-800-843-5678.