The Internet has become a powder keg of sorts. On the one hand, it’s drawing people together, making communities that never existed, and connecting the world in amazing ways. On the other hand, it’s becoming a mirror to the society, exposing its worst ills and threats – as it was for Kavya Khashnobish, a young girl, who was relentlessly trolled and bullied online for speaking her mind. Kavya fought back, but her story serves as a chilling reminder that the online space isn’t safe for everyone. In light of such incidents, there are certain things we can do to protect our safety online.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Several social media platforms have an option to alert you in case someone who’s unauthorised is accessing your account. All you need to do is opt for a ‘login approval’ code for your account, which will send a number to your phone (connected with your account) that will check if the person accessing the account is really you or not.
This may sound like an easy one, but too many people keep their passwords written (usually on post-its), or strewn around their laptops, especially if they’re working in an office. The point is that no one should be able to access your information easily and sometimes going directly through your machine is the fastest. Consider saving it on your phone if you have a tendency to forget.
This may include content which is sharing someone’s personal details without their consent or is promoting racist/sexist/transphobic ideas. You can report the content a certain user is putting up if you feel it might be problematic or hurt anyone else. The best way to make the internet a safe space for everyone is to ensure that content that may harm someone has as limited a reach as possible.
This would mean checking who you share content with. For instance, limiting what you share with fewer people or groups, those who are closest to you, is an option. Several social media profiles allow you to do this, thus giving you the tools to control who sees what.
This may sound like an aggressive move but the easiest way to be rid of people who are harassing and/or bullying you online is to block or remove them from your profile/wall/page. All social media platforms, from Facebook and Twitter to Tumblr, allow you to block users. Facebook has gone a step further with the launch of its new safety initiative, which helps you secure your account through a security and privacy check-up as well as offering information to parents/ guardians on what to do in case of online harassment or bullying. We often tend to ignore such guidelines, but going forward, it’s a good idea to get savvy.
While these simple steps are not meant to guarantee absolute safety, they ensure at least an additional layer of security. A staggering three billion people are using the internet today, and it’s important that we keep a track of those people who can actually see what we’re doing online. The internet will only be a safe place when we can trust that what we’re putting on it is not reaching people who are not meant to see it.