Digital Abuse – What is it? & How do you prevent it?

Online Safety series

I read a great article on the Facebook Blog today that I know will be useful to share
. It begins with:

Casi Lumbra, 17, is an advisory board member for MTV’s A Thin Line campaign, which launched today to help teens stop the spread of digital abuse. She’s also a member of’s Teenangels, a group of teens trained in all aspects of online safety, privacy and security. While people on Facebook may never encounter digital abuse, they still need to be able to spot it and stop it. We asked Casi to share her perspective as a teenager and expert about the causes of digital abuse and ways that teens can avoid it.

In today’s society more and more time is spent online. This is wonderful for the evolution of knowledge, unification of global communities and the overall increase in human’s technological capabilities. But let’s be realistic this progress isn’t without consequences – When asking teens:

· Have you ever snooped on a friend’s text messages, posted nasty messages about a classmate or colleague on Facebook or posted an embarrassing picture of someone to get even?

· Have any of these situations ever happened to you?”

A growing answer is “yes.” Everywhere we go we are connected, 24hours/7days a week. Almost every physical action has a digital part, especially when interacting with friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, and acquaintances. This frequency online can lead many of us to forget the boundaries of online behavior.

If you are one of those that answered “yes” – you’ve experienced “digital abuse.”

Digital abuse is the use of digital technologies—such as cell phones, social networks, instant messaging and e-mail—to hurt someone, even when you didn’t “mean” it. It even includes certain high-risk digital activities that can hurt us, like “sexting”—the act of sending sexually explicit images.

It is also digital abuse if you:

· Harass people with constant text messages

· Demand that they be available at all times and even sleep with their cell phones

· Send nasty or threatening messages, post mean pictures or create groups to gang up on someone online

· Hack into people’s accounts to hurt them

· Spy on people with keystroke loggers or take over their profiles by changing their passwords


Though these interactions occur in the virtual world, there are serious real-world consequences. Much of these situations may begin as a joke, but they eventually end badly. The openness of exploration of curiosity can easily lead to criminal privacy intrusions.

clip_image006[4]There is a thin line between what is harmless and what is harmful, and that line can be difficult to spot.

MTV release in an effort to help teens plagued with virtual abuse. This thin line exists between differing opinion one person’s sarcastic message, and another person’s hurt feelings. The rapid growth in text is leading to lifelong consequences made in an instant. So the important question is how can you stay on the safe side of the line?

In any situation, it ultimately comes down to choices. You have the power to choose. You own your choice. Each of us has a line and we must stand strong.  Determining your values before situations like these occur is crucial to making the smartest choice. When your mind is clear, you can accurately represent your moral compass. There is no set way to avoid digital abuse but here are some ways that you can avoid it:

  1. Keep your passwords private, and don’t ask anyone for his or her password. There is a thin line between sharing and snooping. You’re entitled to privacy, and password abuse is the root of much cyber-evil.
  2. Hit “delete” instead of “forward.” You have the power to break the cycle of sexting and harassment simply by choosing not to spread such messages.
  3. Think twice before you post that picture or send that message, think about the consequences it might have – today, next week, or the years to come.
  4. Report abuse on Facebook if you see or are a victim of abusive behavior. Because Facebook is based on a real-name culture, it is important to stop people who are abusing others. Look for “Report” links throughout the site, such as the “Report This Photo” link underneath photos and the “Report” links in Inbox messages from people who aren’t confirmed friends.

We control our lives and thus have the power to prevent digital abuse. Share your experiences. Get your friends involved. When your friends are safe, you become safer.

For more information about digital abuse and ways to protect yourself and your loved ones, become a fan of A Thin Line on Facebook or visit

It is important to know your Privacy Rights

You have the right to…

  1. Keep your passwords to yourself
  2. Keep your deets (and others’) private.
  3. say “no” to friend requests (or requests for pictures, passwords, or personal info).
  4. ask people to remove online pics of you.
  5. ask people not to tag, copy, or change your pics.
  6. stop people from posing as you or hacking your accounts.
  7. choose your own friends (online and off)
  8. not to answer calls, texts, or IMs if you don’t want to.

Online – Empowerment

Do you know:
How to prevent phishing or keyloggers from being installed on your computer?
How to use tor or proxies?
How to use encryption on wireless networks that normal people wouldn’t be able to crack easily?

Continue reading my Online Safety series.