MySpace Safety Practices


How can I avoid unwanted contact on MySpace?


This question was answered on October 6, 2006. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Interacting with friends using the site is a part of normal life for millions of teens today There are many benefits to the site, including sharing original music with peers, meeting new people from far away who share similar interests, learning some web technology, and just plain having fun But, naturally, there are inherent risks in publicizing your life on the Internet Here's five safety practices for avoiding unwanted contact:

1 Don't talk to strangers Every teen remembers being told "Don't talk to strangers" and "Never get into a car with a stranger" when they were young If the rules you were taught about strangers are applied on MySpace whenever someone you don't know contacts you, the possibility of something bad happening is minimal.

2 Don't be provocative Your risk will be much further reduced if you do not post provocative content (pictures, comments, blog entries) If you post such content, you're sending a message to people you don't know, who may interpret it in ways you don't expect If you post such content, you may find yourself contacted by someone who's pretending to be 18 when they are really 43 This is what happened in several of the most publicized incidents where contact on MySpace led to meetings that turned very bad.

3 Don't post location information A third level of safety comes from not posting information in your profile or elsewhere that identifies where you live, where you go to school, where you go for fun, what your daily schedule is, what upcoming events you plan to attend, etc Internet safety experts have recommended against posting this kind of information on public sites for a very long time.

4 Configure your MySpace account settings for safety MySpace provides its own software-embedded safety through account settings, blog settings, picture settings, etc These settings can be applied to limit who can view your information and posts The recommended settings for teens and parents concerned about safety and privacy are available at

5 Think about future consequences When you're online, consciously think about the possible impact of what you're typing into the computer and onto the net Think about who has the ability to see what you're typing, not just about the friend or friends for whom you're specifically writing your post If it's something that really only a particular friend or friends should see, then send it in an email message Yes, email is boring, but if the information is private then safety requires private communication Think before you publicly post!

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Posted by Chad of Data Doctors on October 6, 2006