Lessons From “You”: How to Digitally Protect Yourself From Stalkers

By Betty Ann Graham, March 15, 2019

Social media has become part of our daily lives with direct access through our smartphones. Now, our society must think about this fact when approaching our own personal digital safety. The main character, Joe Goldberg (average Joe as I like to call him), from Netflix’s thriller series “You” was no mastermind killer. He is a basic book store clerk who becomes wildly obsessed with a young female he briefly meets and goes to extensive lengths to get her to love him back—including murdering those in his way. He was equipped with the perfect tool to execute whatever he wanted to carry out: his phone. He was able to tap into the private workings of a person he barely knew and use those to manipulate and, ultimately, destroy her.

Phones dominate our lives both socially and professionally—they are always encroaching on our personal space. As event professionals, phones are also our main source of access for on-the-go work and sharing our experiences. As great as this piece of technology is, we need to establish boundaries. In the meeting and events industry, we deal with scary realities like the show “You” through human trafficking and blackmailing. We take a closer look at the tiny computers in our hands and how to avoid a scary scenario.

  1. Set all of your social media profiles to “private.”

Keeping your profiles private allows you to control who has access to your information/images/posts, etc. This acts as a firewall to protect your profile from being perused by just anyone on the interwebs.

  1. Don’t post real-time location or activities.

It’s exciting to share your travels, but it also creates a digital breadcrumb trail for stalkers to easily trace, especially if your profile is public. Tracking down someone with your exact name in a specific place just makes refining their search easier. Share after you have physically left the area to avoid a possibly frightening outcome.

  1. Don’t overshare.

It’s great to be able to talk about your emotions—however, this is not why social media exists. Social media can be wrongly used as a diary for some. While this may seem therapeutic, it also shows insight into your vulnerabilities, allowing for outsiders to tap into your feelings and strike at the most opportune times. Also, posting your every thought and move makes it easy to figure out where you are, when you’re there, who you’re with or what your plans are.

  1. Share only what you are comfortable with your mom, dad, grandma, etc. reading or seeing.

Sharing provocative or inappropriate images is asking for trouble. Be sure the pictures you are posting are conservative enough that you aren’t attracting the wrong types of or unwanted audiences. The events industry is known for being a touchy-feely environment—for better or worse. Don’t give another person permission to get the wrong impression because of your appearance or behavior.

  1. Only accept friend or follower requests from people you know well in-person.

It’s easy to decide to click “accept” or “ignore” when someone sends you a friend request if you have physically met them. Unless they are a work colleague that you are telecommunicative with, chances are, the person sending you a friend request doesn’t personally know you. Or, if they do, they only know you by association, which isn’t a good enough reason to allow them into your personal space to follow your every move. No matter how much you are into your personal branding or focusing on building a network, safety always comes first.

 

*Photo credit: Courtesy of Netflix
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