Stop. Think. Connect.

The internet is such a big part of our lives. We bank, shop, watch movies, read the news, play games, and do a lot more. We also share a lot about ourselves online, whether it’s letting Sephora (and every online targeted advertiser) know that you're currently looking for the perfect lipstick (which I found, by the way!) or sharing selfies of said perfect lipstick on Facebook. The internet knows a lot about us – just Google yourself. You might be surprised at how well-known you actually are.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month as well as National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). For survivors of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault, online security and safety is imperative; but it’s also important for everyone. One of the theme for NCSAM is STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Before you connect online, stop, and think about your privacy and security. Who’s going to see that selfie on Facebook? Is your connection secure when you type in your credit card information on Sephora’s website? (Tip: Check your Facebook privacy settings, and make sure you’re using an HTTPS connection when sharing sensitive financial information.)

To honor Domestic Violence Awareness Month and National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’ve put together a series of videos on Online Privacy & Safety. Below is today’s video, and for the next four days, we’ll be releasing a new video in this series (check back here daily or follow NNEDV on social media to see them all!). They’re short and sweet, and we hope they will be helpful.

·        Online Privacy & Safety - Introduction

·        Creating an Account

·        Security Settings

·        Privacy Settings

·        Facebook Privacy, Security & Safety

Meanwhile, if you want more tips on surfing the internet safely, check out:

“Online Privacy & Safety” section in our Technology Safety & Privacy: A Toolkit for Survivors

National Cyber Security Awareness Month’s Tips

Cybersecurity & Violence Against Women

In addition to being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, this month is also Cybersecurity Awareness Month. When we think about cybersecurity, we often think of security from identity theft, fraud, phishing, or hackers who steal passwords and information. But cyber – or online – security has a broader meaning for victims of domestic and sexual violence and stalking. Cybersecurity also means personal safety – safety from harm, harassment, and abuse while online.

For many survivors, being online can feel unsafe because the abuser or stalker is accessing their online accounts to monitor their activities; posting harmful and negative things about them, including sexually explicit images and personally identifying information; or using cyberspace to harass and make violent threats under the cover of “anonymity.” Abusers and stalkers often compromise the security of survivors’ technologies by installing monitoring software on cell phones or computers or forcing them to reveal passwords to online accounts.

In a study conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence, victim service providers report that of the survivors they work with 75% have abusers who access their online accounts, 65% have abusers who monitor their online activities, and 68% have had their pictures posted online by the abuser without their consent. In a survey by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, when abusers and stalkers distribute sexually explicit images of victims, 59% includes the full name of the victim, 49% include social media information, and 20% include the phone numbers of the victim. Online harassment, in the context of abuse and stalking, can have serious and dangerous consequences.

So this month, as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Cybersecurity Awareness Month coincides, let’s think about cybersecurity and safety beyond safely making an online purchase but how we can create an environment where all can be personally safe from violence while online. How do we create a safe online space that doesn’t tolerate abuse? How do we support those who are victimized online, whether their ex is making threats via social networks, or someone is distributing sexually explicit images of them online, or they’re being threatened by a group of strangers online simply because they have an opinion about gender and dare to be in a male-dominated space? And how do we hold accountable those who are threatening, abusing, and harassing victims online?

This month—and all months—help us figure out the answers to these important questions. Comment below if you have thoughts or ideas. 

 

Donate Your Old Cell Phones

Photo: (Getty/DoSomething.org)

Photo: (Getty/DoSomething.org)

Want to do something for Domestic Violence Awareness month?  MTV and DoSomething.org have launched their Cell Phones for Survivors campaign, where you can send them your old cell phones. For every phone that is donated, DoSomething.org will donate to NNEDV’s Safety Net Project (yes, that’s us!). You’ll also be entered into a lottery to win a $4,000 scholarship, and you can enter as many times as you want!

This Is Awesome! How Do I Donate My Phone?

Take a picture of the phones you’re donating and tell all your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, Instagram, the entire internet! – let them know how awesome you are. (Tag your posts: @nnedv @mtvact @dosomething #31n31) You can also share your picture on DoSomething.org’s site. 

Print a free shipping label, tape it on an envelope, put your phone inside, and drop it in the mail! That’s it. 

Anything Else I Should Do Before I Send Off My Phone?

Yes. Make sure you go through your phone and wipe off all your data before you send it off. 

  1. Back up all your pictures, videos, files, and whatever else that’s on the phone that you want to keep.
  2. Wipe your phone to factory setting to make sure that all personal data has been removed from your phone. If you don’t know how to do this, Google “How do I wipe my [phone’s make/model] to factory setting.”
  3. Remove any SIM or SD cards, since these cards contain personal data. 

Done. Found My Old Cell Phone. Printed the Free Shipping Label, and I sent it off!

Thank you!! Getting rid of your old phone helps us do the work that we do: training and educating advocates and service providers about how technology can be used or misused. 

Questions?? Let us know in the comments below; we’d love to hear from you!

 

Act. Speak. Make a Difference.

 

Last week, was a busy week for the Safety Net team. At the beginning of the week, Erica Olsen, Stephen Montagna and I were in Little Rock, AZ, co-hosting The Use of Technology in Intimate Partner Stalking Conference with the Stalking Resource Center. The three of us provided trainings on phones and its misuse, the internet and how privacy and safety can be compromised, and focused specifically in a 3-hour presentation on social media to about 50 victim service advocates, law enforcement, and prosecutors. Visit the links below for tips and handouts on these topics.

On Thursday & Friday of last week, Cindy Southworth and I attended Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board meeting. Each year, Facebook brings together their Safety Advisory Board to talk about upcoming products and how they can ensure that their services are safe for teens and users who might be stalked or harassed on Facebook. 

Kaofeng Lee and Cindy Southworth at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, CA.

Kaofeng Lee and Cindy Southworth at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, CA.

I’m always struck at how passionate Facebook staff is about connecting people. Facebook, at its core, is about connections. That’s why we urge victim advocates and service providers to NOT tell survivors to just get off Facebook. We know how important that community can be for many survivors. Doing this work, we are focused (and rightly so) on how social media is misused to stalk and harass. We are constantly having conversations about how survivors can find resources, justice, and peace of mind and spirit when they are subject to abuse and control by abusers and stalkers. 

Yet, let’s take a moment and focus on Facebook and social media as a medium of connection and communication. How can we use social media to shift how we, as a society, talk about issues of domestic violence, sexual violence, and other crimes of abuse, harassment, and stalking? How can we use these spaces to change the way we talk about these issues, the way we think about these issues, and ultimately change the way people understand and perceive gender roles, relationships, and violence? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

In less than a week, it’ll be October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month. What are you doing to raise awareness about domestic violence? Here at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, this year’s 31n31 campaign will be focused on actions: 31 actions you can take to make a difference. We’re also starting a book club on Goodreads to discuss issues of domestic violence in modern literature. Follow this blog and our Facebook page for other activities you can take part in.

Take action with us. Join our book club and talk to us (and each other) about this issue. Let us know what you think we can do to use social media to change the way we talk and understand domestic violence.

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