An Overview of Net Safety


#1

Before I begin, there are a few things that I want to get out of the way:

  1. I am just a user of WaniKani. I am not staff, nor am I a moderator or admin.
  2. I am not an expert in Internet Safety. I am just a guy who spends too much time at his computer. If you have any contributions or corrections, you can send them to me here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/C5FP3QY
    I will sanitize as much personal information as I can before inclusion, but please, use caution, and try not to send me anything personal or identifying. Also, please don’t abuse my trust and send me your Koichi/Viet slash fic.
  3. Everything here applies to me as well. I AM A STRANGER ON THE INTERNET, AND NOT TO BE TRUSTED.

Now, the WaniKani community is generally a pretty good, safe space for people. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use a good amount of caution. Put simply, people can lie about who they are, and their intentions, and there is no way to figure out the truth online. It’s also important to realize that there are more lurkers (people who read, but don’t post) than posters in any community, and they have just as much access to what you post.

  1. Avoid posting any personal information. Things you absolutely should not post are things like your full name (or anything particularly distinctive), and your address. Remember, every piece of personal information you make public makes it easier for someone to track down who you are. If you go to school, things like where, or what the Sportsball team name is can narrow down your identity. Long story short; if you wouldn’t give it to the creepy guy who hangs around the adult video store, don’t give it to us.

  2. Do not share login credentials with anyone. Not only can they pretend to be you, your User settings contain lots of personal information that you don’t want getting out. Anybody other than you that should have access to it, already does. Anybody claiming otherwise is lying, and should be reported immediately.

  3. Assume anything you post is visible to everybody, everywhere, forever. Most of the WaniKani forums are open to search engines, and they like to cache everything they see. It’s also very easy for someone to simply take a screenshot, or copy the text.

  4. Be very careful about meeting people offline. If you are going to do something like this, do it in a group of at least three people, keep to public areas, and have someone you trust aware of where you are, and who you’re with. It’s also a very good idea to have someone you trust look over your chat logs with you; nobody’s perfect, and it’s very possible you could miss a red flag (you may want to do this even if you don’t plan on meeting). If you are a minor, do not do this, PERIOD, especially without your parent/guardian’s permission and involvement.

  5. If something or someone makes you uncomfortable, tell somebody! The forum admins and staff are here to keep you safe and happy. If something seems off, let them know, and they’ll deal with it. Remember, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. If someone does figure out your identity, tell your parents/guardians, a friend, a teacher or guidance counsellor, even a religious leader. If you’re afraid for your safety, go to the police.

  6. Keep records of any private interactions. Should the worst happen, it’s important to have an established timeline of events.

@koichi, @viet, @Kristen, If it was inappropriate of me to post this, please take it down. Also, feel free to sticky/move it somewhere else.

Again, if I’ve missed anything, or you have anything you want to contribute, like tips, or personal (but sanitized) experiences, feel free to reply, but please, keep it a judgment free zone. My intention is to educate, and keep people safe, not shame. If you want to contribute anonymously, there’s the SurveyMonkey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/C5FP3QY


Forum Safety and the Disabling of PMs
Forum Safety and the Disabling of PMs
#2

While these are good pointers, and certainly with the best of intentions, I would like to add a couple of things to the advice posted.

First of all, this is good advice for staying out of trouble. However, it is also very difficult for a child/teenager (or adult for that matter) to follow all these guidelines. There is an expectation from many services that you, for example, use your real name. I sure do on Facebook for instance. I’ve also told people online where I live, and met some really good friends that way. Many adults use Internet dating sites to find a partner, which also involves sharing personal information. It’s not simple rules to follow in todays society.

My concern is that a child will get this advice, to never share any personal information online, and then do it anyway, even though they know they shouldn’t. If something bad then happens, the child might be in a position where they feel bad or guilty both because they were subject to something nasty and because they broke the rules. That is why point 5 on the above list is the most important one here. And why it is our responsibility as adults to make sure our kids feel like they can trust us with this.

That is why I feel that there is one piece of advice that’s essential to add here. And this is for parents (and adults who work with or meet children and teenagers)

  • Talk to your child about what happens online. Show interest. Just as you ask “How was school today?”, ask “How was the Internet today?” Talk to them about what sites or apps they enjoy, sit down with them and learn why they enjoy them and why they are important to them. And make absolutely sure that they know you care about their well-being just as much online as offline.

Because if something should happen, they have to be absolutely certain that you will support them and help them, rather than scold them for breaking the rules. Otherwise they might not tell you, and that can lead to disaster.

A couple of years ago I read about a dad who got a cake as celebration for when his son reached the highest level in World of Warcraft. They celebrated like he had won a tennis tournament, or had played his first concert. That’s the mindset to strive for, I believe.

I write this as a person working in education, where I, in part, work with children concerning these kinds of issues. I base my reasoning on my experience with the research of (Swedish) scientific researchers about youths and Internet Culture like Elza Dunkels.

Again, I don’t mean to argue against the given advice, I just want to expand upon it and offer my perspective. Thanks @bladepoint for bringing up this topic. It’s an important one.


#3

I’ve received a couple of anonymous suggestions I’d like to include. Thanks to both of you for contributing!:

Hi blade! Thanks for creating this thread. I wanted to suggest that as part of points 4/5, could you add something to the tune of what Cassykins posted in the PMs thread? It’s not just a case of “if you’re worried or scared you can tell someone” - I think it’s a valuable suggestion that if, for example, you’re going to meet up with someone or whatever, you get a third party to look through the interactions and see if there are any red flags you’ve missed.

This is an excellent point, and I’ve added it to the OP.

Hey blade, thanks for this. Was wondering whether ‘minors should never meet up’ should be softened to ‘you should never do this without your parents’ permission, and only if they can go with you’. Not sure whether teenagers are likely to meet up anyway, in which case best to have parents, or whether a softer message weakens it. Your discretion.

This one was a lot trickier for me. On the one hand, if a minor is absolutely insistent on meeting someone they met online, these are totally necessary steps to take. On the other hand, this kind of thing is risky enough for adults. I’ve decided to leave the strong limit on, but I’ve added “especially without your parent/guardian’s permission and involvement.”


#4

I feel like #1 on your list certainly applies to minors, but for others it is a calculated risk how much personal information one reveals.There is a place in your profile for example to put your location. Another example was a recent thread where people were talking about how their names are pronounced in Japan. I made the calculation to write my own first name in a post, which is something I almost never do online, but then I’m over 50 and don’t have much to be concerned about regarding online predators. Oops, just revealed something else.

But yes, certainly people under 18 should not be revealing personal information online in my opinion. However, we live in a Facebook/YouTube/Instagram/Twitter world where doing so is commonplace, so without the direct input of their parents, (and even then) they may often reveal more than is wise.


#5

That’s kind of a weird way to say it, I don’t know anybody who is friends with a creepy guy who hangs around the adult section of a video store.

I think it’s better to just phrase it as: “If you can’t trust them to come into your house, then you shouldn’t tell them where you live. This applies to everyone, even folks you consider close friends. This is doubly so applied for people you’ve only talked through text online.”.

Edit: just saying that for information to stick, it has to be relatable to some extent. Every little bit helps.


#6

@Sezme: You’re right, we do live in the era of Facebook. That being said, the big social media sites are much more heavily managed, and users have more control over who gets to see what. On smaller sites like this, anything you post is open for all to see, and that needs to be taken into account regardless of age/sex/your demographic here.

This is exactly my point.

Here’s a video that demonstrates why you need to make sure you carefully manage anything you put online:


#7

Technically, making a Facebook profile under a false name is a violation of their terms of use, and if someone complains they will lock you out until you prove that it’s your real name.

I’m not a FB fan myself.