“Privacy Stories” by Shiloh Wall

Published on Topic: Guest Blog, Privacy

Shiloh Wall is a SheByShe member and guest blogger. Below she shares her privacy stories and offers useful advice for us all.

I’m a fairly private person by nature, but, in today’s technological world, privacy pretty much goes out the window. The second you sign up for Internet service, or even phone service, nothing is private anymore. In the 18 years that I’ve had an ‘online presence’, I’ve seen, heard and even had my own fair share of ‘security breeches’. Granted, there are steps you can take to prevent such things, but, nothing is completely safe from prying eyes.

Back in the early days, I wasn’t nearly as cautious as I should have been and had one major incident of ‘hacking’, which, by my own admission, was my own fault. I’d recently broken up with a boyfriend and for reasons known only to him, he managed to get ahold of my login information for the chat site we were on and impersonate me. How did that happen? Unknown to me at the time, I used AT&T WorldNet, which, if you used the ‘send email’ tab from inside the browser, would send the information on the page you were on at the time as a loadable page, no password needed. I spent a good two months cleaning up that mess.

 A more recent incident, where privacy is concerned, is obviously all the ‘new and improved’ changes everyone’s favorite social media site, Facebook, makes on an almost daily basis.  It goes without saying, that almost every time an ‘update’ occurs, my privacy settings become compromised. How so? For years, I was ‘unsearchable’, and if there was someone I did not want to find me, such as a psychotic ex husband, I could rest assured that I would not be found. With one of the last updates that occurred, he found me. He sent a friend request AND proceeded to use the ‘follow’ function, which, prior to the update, had been turned off for my profile. Needless to say, I freaked.  I had been fairly certain I’d taken all precautions to prevent him from contacting me; I had his email address blocked (at least the one I knew), and my security was set to where only ‘friends of friends’ could add me.  After I got the friend request, I double checked. My settings were not where I’d set them last. I’ve got it fixed for now, at least until the next update, and the aforementioned ex is now approximately 8 hours away from where I live and thankfully, the problem of his family, and not a threat to mine.

 What can be done to protect yourself these days? Well, the first rule is  understanding that nothing, but NOTHING is truly private. Don’t put anything online you wouldn’t say in public. Change your passwords often, and don’t make them super easy to ‘hack’. Check your privacy settings on any and all social media sites at least once a week to ensure the information you post can only be seen by who you chose (currently mine are set to ‘friends only’). Your information and privacy CAN be secured by one thing though. Just stay off the Internet.

 But, that’s never going to happen, right?