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Month: September 2017

Protecting Your Image: Online Dating and Private Photo Sharing

Posted on September 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

Would you feel safe handing photos of yourself out to everyone in the world without knowing their intentions, mental stability, criminal background or position in your workplace? Most of us wouldn’t, and yet scores of people do just that every day-by posting their photos on dating websites, classified personals such as craigslist, e-mailing them or using other non-secure channels.

We’ve grown to trust the Internet as a fixture in our daily lives. However, the digital world poses the same threats to our personal safety and privacy as the real world, only amplified through its ability to connect anyone with any bit of data that floats freely through the ether. In the world of online dating, people may feel safer because they share images anonymously but, in reality, this just opens up more questions about who you’re looking at and vice versa.

Sharing photos through text, e-mail, online dating sites or public photo sharing environments puts your image in front of anyone and everyone, possibly affecting your personal safety, reputation and your employability. In one high-profile case, Congressman Chris Lee’s shirtless photo, e-mailed to a woman that he met on craigslist, forced him to resign after his “private” image went public. But you don’t have to be famous to become the victim of misused photo sharing. In Dallas, a firefighter lost his job after the husband of a woman with whom he had an affair informed the fire department of the nude photos that the firefighter posted on various adult dating websites that were specifically marketed for casual sexual encounters. In Canada, a judge stepped down after explicit pictures, taken by her attorney husband and shared through e-mail without her knowledge, surfaced online on a porn website.

In addition, there are many cases when a person’s photo has been stolen or saved and used by another to create a fictitious online identity-a scenario chronicled in the documentary film Catfish. While a few states have updated their laws to include online impersonation as a crime, it is often hard to track, with many unaware that they are victims. In one instance, a California man had his pictures “borrowed” and used by another man who was meeting women on a popular Jewish dating site. It was only by chance that he knew a woman who was communicating with this man and had received the pictures during their correspondence. In another instance, a 24-year-old Denver woman had her photos and details taken from her Facebook page and used by a 46-year-old woman for over six months to communicate with men that she met on various free and paid dating sites. No legal action was taken by the state in either case.

Dating sites are also a playing ground for con artists, criminals and sex offenders. Countless stories have surfaced about people who have sent money or goods to people who have romanced them online; others have been robbed at knifepoint, sexually abused and even murdered. It is wise, therefore, to add a layer of protection to your screening process by protecting your images and personal identity.

If you want to share photos with that online charmer-or with anyone else, for that matter-you should look into a private photo sharing service. These services offer a closed, secure environment in which members can share photos, anonymously or otherwise. When selecting such a service, make sure you have control over who specifically can look at your photos, which photos they can see and how long the photos remain viewable to them. Also, confirm that the site offers security features that protect your images from being captured or saved by the viewer in order to prevent them from being used in an unintended way.

Posting a Profile Picture

Meeting someone online does involve knowing that there will be a certain level of attraction, so posting a picture in an online profile has been shown to increase the number of responses an online dater receives. Some services go even further to protect your anonymity. One private photo sharing site, for example, lets you create a “teaser image” that clouds your image just enough to keep your identity private, while still allowing viewers to get a general idea of what you look like. Members can post this teaser image in the form of a JPEG file, link or clickable image on dating sites or other online locations as part of their personal profile and direct the individuals that they are interested in back to the website to see their actual photo. The service also uses patent-pending technology to prevent people from saving, forwarding or otherwise tampering with your images once they have viewing access to them.

In a world where privacy has largely become a thing of the past, it’s up to you to find and maintain a safe harbor for your online identity. Don’t depend on the kindness of strangers-take steps to make sure your private life stays private.

How Long Should I Wait Before Meeting My Online Date for the First Time?

Posted on September 22, 2017 in Uncategorized

There is no sense in communicating with someone endlessly, talking on the phone for hours and days, if you can just as easily do so in person to find out if you like each other.

Therefore, you should try to meet up with someone you’re interested in as soon as possible. In other words, within 2 weeks of striking up conversation.

This prevents several things.

Don’t Waste Your Time

First, it prevents you from wasting your time on someone with whom you have no chemistry. Let’s say you spend several days and even weeks texting, or otherwise communicating with each other, not in person.

Let’s say you finally meet, and – woops! – there’s no chemistry there for you. Talk about a let down! Here you’ve built up this person, thinking your first date would culminate in fireworks, because of how fun it was to chat back and forth.

Instead, he was a dud, and you realize now that you aren’t very much interested in communicating with him going forward. Next!

Who Is This Person, Anyway?

Another reason why communicating too much before a first date is bad is because you don’t really know with whom you’re communicating – is this person really who he says he is?

You may have heard of the term “catfish” lately. The definition of a catfish is someone who claims to be one thing online but is someone completely different in real life.

Examples of catfish are gay/questioning women posing as men, or gay/questioning men posing as women, attempting to attract someone of their same sex, but without being honest about their own gender or sexual orientation.

Some catfish are the gender they say they are, but are stealing other people’s social media photos, and passing them off as their own.

Other examples of catfish are foreign men in developing countries who sit at an internet cafe all day, pretending to be the kind of person someone is looking for, and somehow managing to swindle vulnerable people (often older folks) out of hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars, using emotional and romantic manipulation.

Hopefully, you never come across a catfish. But the best way to combat this trap is to ensure you meet your new potential love interest in person as soon as possible.

Beware Excuses

If you’ve tried more than once to meet up with your date, and the excuses seem to keep on coming, just give up. He or she is either a catfish, or just not that interested in starting a relationship.

You are free to move on!

Some Reasons People Become Catfish

Posted on September 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

There can be all sorts of reasons why people become Catfish online [create fake profiles], but two I’ve read of this week are: one woman who did it to fool her employers and a man who did it to kill his girlfriend, by posing as an online stalker before he killed her.

One woman did it to humiliate her boyfriend and one man created 130 fake Facebook accounts to harass his sixteen year old girl friend. See link at end of article. **

While to many it can seem pretty harmless creating fake profiles and becoming a ‘Catfish’, and of course it can be just someone with low self esteem trying to live out a fantasy life online, to the victims it can cause pain and upset, even death in rare cases.

Other reasons I’ve heard of why people become Catfish is to check up on their partners or previous partners, to try to lure them to see if they take the bait or just to nose around on their Facebook page as someone else, if the person has blocked them. Sometimes they do it to appear anonymous on Facebook so that people they know won’t recognise them.

It’s a minefield as there are estimated to be around 83 million fake Facebook accounts. The best thing you can do as a social network user is to protect yourself by looking for the signs that someone is a fake. If you answer YES to any of these questions about your Facebook friend, then it should hold up a red flag:

1. Does your FB friend’s profile picture look too good to be true? Quite often they look like models or celebrities or just extremely attractive.

2. Do they have few photographs and none taken with friends and/or family?

3. Is there no tagging of photographs by themselves or friends?

4. Does the information they say about themselves sound too good to be true? For example, they are in the modelling business, a fashion designer, etc.

5. Do they have only a few friends listed on their page?

6. Are there few posts on their wall and lack of comments by friends?

7. Do you just ‘have a feeling’ that somehow they are too good to be true?

8. Are they always making excuses why you can’t see them on webcam or get to meet them?

9. Have you been asked for money by the suspect Catfish? If so, it could be a Nigerian Scammer behind that profile pic or some other con artist.

10. Has this person declared undying love or got keen far too soon? Another red flag.

Protect yourself by:

1. Dragging and dropping their ‘perfect image’ into Google image search, it might throw up photographs of that image elsewhere online and you might find they are posing as someone else to others.

2. If you are arranging to meet up, ensure you talk to them on webcam first so you can see they are the person in the photograph, or failing that, get them to take a photograph of themselves holding up that day’s newspaper clearly showing the date or a card with your name on it. Of course, if they are the person they say they are, it still doesn’t mean they’re not trying to con you in some way!

3. Google their full name. If they are supposed to be a successful model, designer or other, their name should show up somewhere online, if it doesn’t, see it as a probable red flag.

4. You can also contact a couple of their Facebook friends to ask what they know about the person, although you may need to be careful how you set about doing this. Chances are they might not know them either or it could be the suspected Catfish has other profiles they’ve added as friends.

5. Often if a person is a Catfish they will keep making excuses why they can’t send you a photograph, appear on webcam or keep breaking potential dates and they often have elaborate excuses, such as they were involved in a car accident, their parent was suddenly taken ill, so see anything like that as a potential red flag.

6. There are various websites where you can discover a person’s location from their email address or email header info. Here’s one:

http://www.ip2location.com/free/email-tracer

7. It’s possible to waste a lot of time with a Catfish online as they keep dangling that proverbial carrot, so give yourself a time limit and think if so and so hasn’t proved him or herself by such and such a date, they’re not worth bothering with. With today’s technology it’s not that difficult or expensive for someone to get a webcam or send a photograph to show they are the person on their profile pic. If they can’t do that, it’s the biggest red flag of all!

Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!

** Article link: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20123755-504083/calif-man-creates-130-fake-facebook-profiles-to-harass-ex-girlfriend-pleads-no-contest/

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