Social Media Safety: Teen Lured From Michigan Via Twitter Conversation

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I can’t stress the importance of knowing who you’re conversing with online enough. With there being so many followers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. its easy to get caught up in thinking everyone is your “friend”. You can never be sure if the person behind the social media name is an actual teen or if they’re a creepy older person looking to prey upon young people. Take this recent story for example.

Last year, a 15-year-old female from Michigan met a then, 22-year-old man from Zion, IL on Twitter under the name “Scrooge McDuck”. After 2 weeks of communicating back and forth, the man offered to buy the teen a train ticket to visit him but, instead ended up driving to Michigan with his baby’s mother and child in the car. The teen had no knowledge of the other occupants until she received a tweet from him telling her to “come outside”. What happened afterwards turned into any mother’s worst nightmare. According to news reports, during their drive back to Zion, the guy revealed that he was a pimp and the girl could prostitute for him, he then assaulted the teen once they got back to his place.

Now, I know some of you may be thinking “well why would she even agree to travel with the guy after meeting him via Twitter”, but no one knows how naive some teens really are on social media. So, instead of judging, we can all agree that teens may not be aware of the dangers of online networking and what precautions they should take to stay safe. Here are a few tips on ‘Social Networking Safety‘:

  • Don’t over share information. When creating a profile page, don’t reveal too much even if account settings are set to private, users are still at risk of their accounts being hacked.
  • Remember, everyone isn’t who you think they are online. Social networking sites make it very easy to pretend to be someone else.
  • Limit your use of location- based services. Location-based services can be one of the most dangerous features provided by social networking sites. It exposes the profile user’s location and whereabouts. It can increase your vulnerability, potentially opening you up to being robbed, sexually assaulted, or worse by predators who can use this tool to track your movements.
  • And although this may be hard… Accept only people you know, this can protect you from spammers, pedophiles, and other people who use social networking sites to commit crimes.

It’s okay to enjoy social networking, but make sure you are enjoying it safely and consider what you post online before you post it!

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