Red Riding Hood as a Warning for Social Media
Today, I have a treat for all of you. Kait Nolan, author of Red, (an AMAZING YA fiction–and I am SUPER picky) is here to talk to you guys about a subject that is near and dear to my paranoid little heart. I am a huge proponent of operational security. What does operational security mean in plain English? Understand your enemy and deny him access. Social media offers wonderful advantages to the digital age author. But, with new opportunities come new threats.
Kait is going to show us what Little Red Riding Hood can teach us about staying safe while traversing dark forests of social media. Take it away Kait…
I did a lot of research on the origins of the Red Riding Hood legend in the course of writing my current book, Red. There are several iterations, spanning a pretty wide range of locales, but they all tended to have one specific thing in common. The take home message was Don’t talk to strangers or there will be consequences. In most versions of the story, the consequences for Red spilling the beans “Oh, I’m on my way to grandma’s house!” is that grandma gets eaten. Pretty stiff penalty for not keeping your mouth shut!
There’s a real parallel of this moral in the world of social media. Oh, not in the don’t talk to strangers part. Obviously that’s part and parcel of what we do with social media—connect with strangers and make new friends. But there’s a real tendency toward over-sharing in the world of Twitter and Facebook. And I don’t mean of the “Man, that Mexican I had for lunch is not sitting well!” variety.
All over social media you will see people Tweeting their location or Checking-In at places all over Facebook. Other people will do the same, tagging everybody they’re with. I seldom do this, other than checking in at the local frozen yogurt place for the 10% off discount. Why? Because all those “Hey! Look what I’m doing at location X!” are great big advertisements of “Look! I’m not at home! Come rob me!” A lot of people actually have enough information either in their profile or via their tweets and updates for the bad guys to find you. Addresses. Phone numbers. Pictures of your house. Pictures of your kids. Your kids’ real names.
Thieves aren’t the only predators out there trolling social media. There are stalkers. Pedophiles. All sorts of bad guys who look for their next victim through Twitter and Facebook because people are foolish enough to release all kinds of personal information about their location to the world. It makes it really easy for bad guys to follow your movements, your habits, learn your schedule. All of this just makes you easier prey.
In a recent episode of Rizzoli and Isles (awesome show, in case you’re not watching), a child was kidnapped because the bad guy had been corresponding with her via instant message on her smart phone. His handle was one small character off from her BFF and she was so into the conversation, she never even noticed. He arranged a meet and, thinking she was meeting her BFF, she went. And got snatched. Think this kind of thing only happens on TV? Think again. The FBI recently busted a local guy in my town for child pornography—and he was caught because of social media. There are whole teams of law enforcement who monitor social media looking for child predators.
Now I’m not bringing all this up to be a Debbie Downer, but I do bring it up to make you think. Go check your privacy settings on Facebook—God knows they keep changing stuff to make you inadvertently release information you probably didn’t intend. Nobody on social media needs to know your address, your phone number, where you are at any given time, your kid’s name, etc. Nobody not on your friends list needs to know where you work or go to school. If it’s somebody who knows you in real life, then they should know that stuff from somewhere OTHER than your profile. And use some forethought before you tweet or update anything about your real life that could be traceable. It may not happen to you, but you can never be too careful. There are worse things out there than the Big Bad Wolf.
Thank you, Kait! For some additional tips, here are my 5 Ways to Stay Safe on Social Media and still build an authentic platform.
Kait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. The work of this Mississippi native is packed with action, romance, and the kinds of imaginative paranormal creatures you’d want to sweep you off your feet…or eat your boss. When she’s not working or writing, she’s in her kitchen, heading up a revolution to Retake Homemade from her cooking blog, Pots and Plots.
You can catch up with her at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.
Her debut YA paranormal, Red, is currently available from Smashwords, Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Barnes and Noble, the iBookstore, and All Romance EBooks.
Thanks for the safety tip. It’s a balancing act it seems at times knowing how much to share.
I’ve read about Red on another blog and couldn’t seem to find it on amazon 🙁 Super glad to have the link – now I have weekend reading.
Great post. And it’s no good doing all that most of the time, then getting all ‘in the moment’ *blushes* and dropping a clanger. There is a peadophile in the next town, she is renting a house where the garden looks out over the school playing field. How sweet for her. I bet they can’t even kick her out. Makes me so mad.
Great advice! I think it is a good idea to be on guard without being overly paranoid~
Yikes! Kristen, you and Kait just nabbed one of my recently-acquired bad habits: checking in, sometimes from my own patio!
Thanks for the heads-up.
Kait, thanks for the tip and the reminder to be cautious. We live in an odd world where culture encourages us to engage with strangers online, yet it seems that there are more dangers from bad guys than ever.
We can talk to strangers. I think the problem comes from forgetting that others are, in fact, strangers. As long as we are smart, it’s fine. But we must be vigilant.
Geat advice, Kait. I often read my kids friends on Facebook discussing their last dates, lunch, pictures of them out with the kids … “off to the gym” and cringe. A word to the wise often falls on deaf ears. Hopefully yours will be heard by Kristen’s many fans. By the way, love Risolli&Isles as a fan of Tess Gerristsen and the books where those woman originated and both actresses and their other roles on TV 🙂
Oops … sorry for the mis-spelled “Gerritson” is the name.
Good stuff Kait. I guess I was naturally just paranoid enough to leave most of that stuff out. I look at social media as another version of my public self. If I wouldn’t say it in front of a dinner party filled with people I barely know it ain’t going into cyberspace.
Which is what it should be. 🙂 It’s on the internet and it connects us to the world. 🙂
Great post! You make excellent points. It’s a shame that people need to be reminded of these things, but thank goodness thee are people out there ready to do the reminding!
Great post. Thanks, the advice is not only helpful, but something we should think about when sharing on the interwebz.
Thanks for the post, Kait. Excellent advice and timely too. So many don’t realize about ‘geo-tagging’. I’m going to forward this post on to some of my friends who need it.
PS I’m going to have to watch Rizzoli and Isles. Looks good!
It’s easy to forget that when you’re telling your friends and family something you think they need to know that the rest of the world can see it too. Better to use private communications like email or telephone.
I really have never liked the ‘check-in’ features as far back as Live Journal’s ‘location’ information. The new stuff is even worse, and one of the reasons I’m glad I don’t have a more modern phone is the complete inability of those programs to exist on it.
I hate that I can’t get my grown kids to remember this warning. They would be so easy to find and that scares me. I don’t tell anyone anything about my location. Thanks for a great post!
That’s what I said in my comment, too, Marcia. It kills me to see my grown kid/kids posting that stuff.
Great post and tips. It’s so easy to post “updates” and forget that the whole world can eavesdrop these days. Timely reminder and also a note that novels and TV often are inspired from the real world. Heck with “reality TV” the line blurs even more!
This is great advice.
Something to add if I may– if criminals are on the lookout, guess what? So are insurance companies.
Protect your premiums people! Don’t post your ailments, your procedures, or your bad driving habits on your updates.
Sheesh! Landmines everywhere!
… or political commentary
Or how much you hate your boss. Something like 80% of employers are checking social media on potential hires.
Welcome to the Twilight Zone?
This is why it’s so awesome to be online under a total pseudonym. There’s no link between this name and my real name (I check, regularly). 😀
Great advice! One of the things I hate about FB is the fact that “friends” can disclose MY personal photos, info, etc. so easily and inadvertently. So and so answered a question about me? Oh yay.
I’ve said before that I was lucky in that I wasn’t on Facebook or anything until I *had* to be for my writing/networking. So from the very beginning, I was able to keep my information “clean.” Thanks for the reminder!
Great advice! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Great advice! Also LOVE Rizzoli and Isles. Thanks, Florence for letting us know about Tess Gerritson. The characters are fantastic.
I so much agree with Jennifer above: the fact FB can post photos of you without your permission is outrageous. You can untag them but often you don’t catch the photo until the damage has been done.
And yes, bosses DO snoop. And so do editors. I just read an interview with an acquisitions editor at a med-sized press. She says before she reads a whole query and sample, she 1) checks wordcount and genre 2) Googles your name. If nothing comes up but those photos of you in Cabo during spring break last year–she hits delete without reading the query.
My husband just got a new smart phone, and I had him disable to option that automatically listed his location anytime he checked Facebook using it. Very complicated sometimes to keep track of everything.
This is a subject near and dear to me. I see my friends constantly “checking in” here or there on FB all the time and it baffles me. I get that it’s fun to do…to them, anyway, I guess lol…but it just leaves so much open to chance. You never know who might be watching or hacking or who knows what else! It’s good to be friendly and its good to share certain things, but we need to be smart about how we interact online.
I just said Facebook seems like my teenaged self’s mom — where are, and who are you with? I hate it. Thanks Kait — I always think I’m pretty private w/ my info — but then one of my kids (one of the adult ones) will post something — disclosing everything. D’oh!
P.S. Lurve Rizzoli and Isles
Facebook is like the Big Bad Wolf of social media. There are so many other things beside checking into Facebook Places and updating your location on your Facebook status that can put you or your information at risk. There is a great blog I use a resource to make sure I’m keeping myself safe online. The blog is written by a lawyer specialized in online crime at: http://ecrimeexpertblog.wordpress.com/
He talks about social media, like Facebook and even the risks in using unsecured Wifi, ect.
It drives me positively INSANE that all these sites now want you to log in with facebook. You do NOT need all my personal information for me to read an article, and I don’t need personal recommendations tailored to my stuff. NOT COOL. It’s so like Big Brother it’s not even funny.
Nicole, thanks for sharing this blog with us. I’ll check it out.
The privacy issue is why I believe all authors should either create a Author Page or keep a separate account for family and personal friends. I use my Facebook account to connect with readers, industry professionals, and authors, but oddly enough, too many writers use Facebook for both personal and professional reasons. Not only do I want politics and religion off my feed, but I feel weird looking at personal messages meant for intimates and photographs of one’s home and/or family during outings.
Well said, Kait. People (esp in the US) expect things to be free, but all those “free” sites are out to make money. While our interest is in privacy that’s completely opposite to what FB and others want us for. They don’t just want to sell us things, they want to sell us, our data, our habits, friends, networks, likes, you name it, they want to sell it. And all the things they want are at odds with the idea or personal privacy.
This is why I have a Facebook page and a real life FB page. The FB page is for the people I don’t know at all. They can LIKE me all day. Things got a little muddy when I started letting certain bloggers in my real life, but I really knew them before I let them into my life with the pictures and all. Plus I know their phone numbers and most of them live in different time zones. So no worries. Still, a good reminder to make sure who I’m allowing where. Especially since FB keeps changes its privacy settings!
If I come track you down, the only thing I’m taking is a bottle of wine. And you’re coming with me. Maybe to NYC?!
I’m so glad you’re addressing this topic again. I went back and re-read your post, too. It’s so easy to get comfortable and say too much. It should be common sense, but there’s a false sense of security when we’re comfy and in our homes and think, oh, nothing’s gonna happen. I get worried when I see my 20-some-year old daughter and her friends putting their locations on FB. These aren’t teens. They’re women who should know better, but I guess when you’re young, you feel invincible. I flipped when I read my daughter’s FB comment about the nice campsite she and her friend and friend’s little boy were at and how her hubby stayed home. Then a guy friend asked, “Where are you?” I cringed when I read that she told everyone in the world two women and a child were camping at X location, no men. I called and asked her why she answered that guy, and she said she realized she shouldn’t have afterward. She assured me lots of people were nearby. As if that made it okay. I think a little bit of caution and common sense go a long way, and I thank you, Kristen, and Kait for reminding us again.
Great post! I always try and remember to use girl child and boy child when talking about my kids- I was posted more info about my family and such before I started branching out into social media for authors stuff- maybe I should go back and delete or block those posts. Or maybe keep facebook just for friends ad family- thanks for making me think about this.
Lots of people I know have fun nicknames for their kids, like Kristen refers to her son as Spawn. It’s personalization without getting TOO personal.
I sooo agree with Kate. Many people don’t realize that when they use their phone to send that oh-so-cute photo of little Hughie, they are sending him to people they don’t want to have his ID and the phone has a GPS so the creep can locate the house or school or both. I love that Kristen calls her child Spawn, and I call mine Darling 1 and Darling 2. No names, no locations, no ID info. We are promoting our work, not our private lives.
Great post, you have me racing off to check my facebook profile.
This is a red alert topic for me. Especially with having a stalking ex/child predator in my past. I have to agree with Kait and can’t stress enough: no personal info. should be on any website. When it comes to social media, I use my penname and there’s no listing of my real one anywhere. My kids are under my penname’s last name and know they’re not to respond to anyone that tries to befriend them unless they get the info firsthand at school from their friend. And even then, I still warn them heavily, never to give their address out, agree to meet anyone, or give personal info out ever, because you just never know. I see a LOT of personal friends do this (some with stalkers as well) and it just scares me to death for them. Super topic!! Thanks, Kristen and Kait!!
I thought I was quite good at keeping my whereabouts a secret until after I’d arrived home again……then I remembered the daily upload of holiday photos on Facebook 🙁
It really makes you think. Great post!
Very helpful post. I had no idea about some of the dangers of posting that you are not at home. I do that often on Twitter and Facebook, and I will be more cautious now.
Thank you Kristen. Loose lips, sink ships.
Thanks for the advice, Kait. 🙂 I’ll keep that in mind. 🙂
This is great stuff. I’m popping over to Facebook now to post a link. Thanks for sharing.
Great post. I am entrenched in social media. It’s a wonderful tool for us writers, but I do worry about too much personal exposure. I have three beautiful girls… as a proud Mama, I want to splash their images all over FB. As a Mama Bear, I don’t want to. I’m careful not to list exact locations or future plans. Wouldn’t want to accidentally tell anyone where “Grandma” is.
After being robbed once we installed an alarm. After three follow up attempts, we also have motion sensing cameras installed. Not surprisingly, I have become very wary of location information on Facebook and twitter. I am constantly checking and rechecking my Privacy settings on FB and am very wary of giving location info, especially when I know I will be out for a while. In most cases, it probably won’t lead to anything, but, as someone who has had my world violated by theft, it takes a long time to feel comfortable in your own home again. Don’t be paranoid, but do be sensible.
Great post! Thanks!
Thank you for posting this. At a training that I had to take on sexual predators (I volunteer with children), ninety percent of the PARENTS in the room had no idea how many minefields are present in the internet today. Your post hit on most of them and hopefully this will help keep your readers safe online.
Everyone has to remember, also, that high tech cameras and smartphones also tag pictures with gps coordinates/date/time information. Anyone with minimum computer saavy can pull that information off of an instantly posted/tweeted photo. Your best bet in that scenario is to either change the settings in your computer/phone or edit your photo’s information prior to posting.
Me? I try to keep my RL name and personal life offline and minimally searchable. Everything else is via my online name. I’m a little bit frightened by the fact that there’s a woman with (nearly) the same name as mine, is the same age as I am, and is from the same state who keeps a very high-profile online existence. I’m hoping that editors/employers know how to tell the difference between the two of us. :-/
Thank you for the reminder! We feel safe in our own little worlds. I’m off to check privacy…again!
Kait, thank you for the reminder that social media is connecting with strangers and we should be cautious. It is so easy to believe I know someone I’ve only met online and I need to remind myself to be careful. I checked out your blog, too. It’s terrific! Tons of easy recipes my family will love! Thank you, Kristen, for having this guest post!
Awesome post! I think it’s crazy how something such as the legendary tale of Little Red Riding Hood can convey very important messages about safety and social media. The way that little red riding hood gets lured by the wolf into believing him is a parallel in showing how our society is a very naïve one. Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, give out so much information about people’s locations and other personal things. Everyone needs to be more careful and private and watch what they post on these sites. The world is already a very dangerous place, and with the overuse of this type of social media, only increases the risk of negative consequences. The story of Little Red Riding Hood is a perfect example of what we should stay away from.
I think the author makes some great parallels between the story and modern life now. By being carefree and not thinking, you can give someone valuable information that they can use to have an upper hand against you. How Red carelessly told the wolf she was going to her grandmothers, is similar to when people post on facebook, and twitter where they are and when no one is at their house. It can give a stranger the right information to rob them, just like the author stated. The story is a great example of what consequences can occur from being too carless with online safety. This story’s message can still be used and a great tool to learn from in todays time.
This is a really interesting and modern relation to the message we get from Little Red Riding Hood. I don’t understand why settings such as “sharing your friends info” and the “checking-in” option are even on Facebook. Thankfully there have been so many new articles and awareness videos to show you how to change your privacy settings.
This post is incredibly interesting and easy for me to relate to as a college student. We have been discussing Little Red Riding Hood in our writing 101 class and most of the analyzing of the message has been of the sexual aspect. This post really opens up a new door however. Red Riding Hood did travel carelessly to her grandmother’s house as so many of us do today. She walked through the woods talking to birds, picking flowers and portraying a naive mentality. Perhaps the fact that my generation grew up on stories such as Little Red Riding Hood is the reason we lead the same naive lifestyle on social networking sites today. Perhaps these sites are our equivalent to the woods that both Red, and the wolf roamed. Are the sexual predators online today our version of the wolves that roamed the woods?
It’s crazy to think how a fairy tale can convey a message that relates to all age groups. I think that they should make a newer, maybe more grusome story directed towards teens since they are the ones that mainly use facebook or twitter. I don’t get why they even let people share such personal information or why people would even want to. Do they not realize there are people out there who are out to get them?
The moral of the fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood, is to not talk to strangers. Red put herself in extreme danger when she not only talked to the wolf, but told him where she was going. If she had not talked to someone she did not know, she would not have been put into such a bad situation. This is a major issue especially now, in today’s society because there are so many social networking sites that have the option of “checking in.” I feel as if this is a huge problem. This option, and others like it, contain very large risks. They give many people, including pedophiles, access into your personal life. Too often there are stories about girls and guys being stalked or kidnapped because of them releasing telling information on social networking sites. I believe that these options should be permanently removed from the sites and that the users have all the power to have them removed.
I hardly leave remarks, but i did a few searching and wound up
here Guest Post from Author Kait Nolan-Red Riding
Hood as a Warning for Social Media « Kristen Lamb’s Blog. And I do have a couple of questions for you if it’s allright.
Could it be simply me or does it give the impression like some of
these comments come across as if they are written by brain dead
individuals? 😛 And, if you are writing on additional social sites,
I would like to keep up with anything new you have to post.
Could you list of every one of your communal sites like your Facebook page, twitter
feed, or linkedin profile?