Protecting Yourself on Social Media

Almost weekly, I receive communication on social media from men who want to flirt. I am not flattered. I have no doubt these men have cast a wide net looking for vulnerable women either to flirt with or to trick into sending them money. Yet some women fall for these “catfish” schemes – smart women who should know better. Here are some tips and tricks to derail them:

  • Be wary of friend requests and follows from servicemen you don’t already know. This sounds terrible, doesn’t it? I certainly support our military and I’m sure you do as well. But at times I have noticed a rash of requests from military personnel. One was supposedly an Army general on Twitter. I accepted, then he started flirting. I scrolled down his Twitter stream and saw he’s married. I told my husband I was quite shocked and he said no Army general would talk that way. I unfriended the general, but I still got a stream of requests, supposedly from military men. Apparently, some people who are up to no good know that women are sympathetic to the military and have set up false accounts.
  • Be wary of friend requests from widowers you don’t already know. This also sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Lately I have been receiving requests on Facebook from men pictured with young children. After I unwittingly accepted the first request, I noticed a barrage of “widowers” trying to friend me. I really don’t feel this is a coincidence, especially since I have not made reaching out to widowers a special personal ministry. Again, this is a sympathetic group to compassionate women.
  • Realize that catfishers assume you are not who you say you are. My profile descriptions always include up front that I’m a Christian wife and mother, but this doesn’t stop them.
  • Be active offline. If you have a full and rich life outside of social media, you will be less vulnerable to people online. You won’t be moved by a stranger declaring your beauty.
  • If you are single, don’t always assume the worst. You might successfully meet a romantic partner online. Good for you! But tiptoe around land mines until you really can trust the person. Never send online “friends” money.
  • If you are married or in a committed relationship, focus your romantic interest on your partner. Your partner is the object of your love.
  • Keep no secrets. My husband knows he can pop onto my computer or phone at will and read anything I post, and that works both ways.
  • Turn off the computer. Matthew 8:18 (NIV) If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.
  • Pray for protection and discernment. God is with you in all situations.

Your turn:

Has anyone tried to catfish you online? What did you do?

What tips can you offer to stay safe online?

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