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Civility in the Digital Age! Can’t We Learn to Be Nice to Each Other?

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We hear about bullets that kill people. Gun control is a topic that is not going away. However there is another type of bullet that can ruin lives in a different form–and can be just as deadly. Cyber-bullets.

Sadly, hearing about online attacks by and between kids has become almost commonplace these days. But attacks against adults are an epidemic onto themselves. As someone who was a target, I know this first-hand, but it’s amazing that far too few people understand the extent to which online hostility and attacks impacts adults as well.

Andrea Weckerle, both through CiviliNation, the non-profit she founded, and her new book Civility in the Digital Age: How Companies and People can Triumph Over Haters, Trolls, Bullies, and Other Jerks is trying to change that. (Disclosure: I serve as an Advisor to CiviliNation.)

Her book outlines the problems we see online (the real-life examples she provides are often raw and hard-hitting), and also offers solutions in the form of best practices and techniques.

She starts by explaining why measuring and monitoring one’s online reputation is important, and breaks down how to do that. She also goes into considerable detail about what types of conflict we’re likely to encounter online (these can range from one-on-one interpersonal conflict to conflict with people who are pseudonymous or anonymous, to online lynch mobs), as well as who the most common troublemakers are (cyberbullies, online harassers and defamers, trolls, sockpuppets, and a host of difficult people). Of particular interest is the information about anger management, which includes insights into how to manage one’s own anger online and how to deal with those who are aggressively spouting off, both which are super important in the hyper-intense online environment. The chapter on conflict resolution skills and strategies get into nitty-gritty how-tos.

But it’s the chapter “30-Day Pan for better Conflict Management Online” that provides detailed information on how to put knowledge into action. Day 1, for example, explains how to start your conflict inventory and assessment, while Day 11 and Day 12 discuss choosing an online monitoring tool and setting up an online conflict tracking system, Meanwhile, Day 17, covers how to determine whether you need to bury or remove negative information about you online, and Day 29 talks about how to simulate an online conflict crisis.

“Civility in the Digital Age” is a serious book, but it’s also very hopeful. In the last chapter, Weckerle quotes serial entrepreneur and environmentalist Paul Hawken who says “If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.” Weckerle writes, “Hawken’s words are relevant to the online world, where you see both the best and the worst of humanity expressed. But if you’ve read this book, it’s clear you’re not willing to turn a blind eye to the egregious behavior found online—you want to make things better!”

And don’t we all want to do that?

In my opinion, if you are online today, you need to read this book.

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Online Privacy: 7 Laws that impact your virtual life

How much information do “they” have about you based on your email and other internet use? You might be surprised to find out. You also might be surprised to know that the internet is largely unregulated by the federal government and policies are mostly underdeveloped.

Because the U.S Supreme Court leans more in favor of the right to free speech, they have taken a hands-off approach to regulation when it comes to the internet and online privacy. There are laws that regulate the use of such things as child pornography and online gambling, but it is important to realize that most laws are issued by individual states rather than being comprehensive and federally issued.

The following is a list of 7 laws that impact our online privacy.

  1. The federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA): From 1986, this complicated law containing many exceptions makes it unlawful under certain circumstances for someone to read or disclose the contents of an electronic communication (18 USC 2511). It notes the difference between an email in transit, and one that is stored on a computer, which means that a private email may be read, if there is the suspicion that the sender is trying to damage the system or another user, but the random monitoring of email is not acceptable.
  2. The USA PATRIOT Act: This act, passed by Congress after the attacks of September 11, 2001 and amended in 2006, gives the government easier access to records about online activity. It also expanded the types of records that can be obtained without a court order.
  3. Electronic Funds Transfer Act: Requires the financial institution to communicate with the account holder all information as it applies to the account- fines, charges, usage, etc. They must provide documentation of all account transactions. They must set forth a plan to promptly address any error on all accounts. It also addresses civil and criminal liability as well as administrative enforcement and congressional reports.
  4. State laws regarding the treatment of personal information are held by Minnesota and Nevada who both require Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to get permission before sharing certain information concerning their customers. They also prohibit disclosure of personally identifying information, and Minnesota does not allow disclosing information about visited websites.
  5. California and Utah require all nonfinancial businesses to disclose to the customer the types of personal information they will share or sell to a third party, either for compensation or direct marketing purposes.
  6. Connecticut and Delaware have laws that require employers to give notice to employees before they monitor e-mail communications or Internet access.
  7. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998: This law protects children by requiring web operators who gather information from children to get consent from a parent or guardian and permit the parent to disallow the collection of such information. They are also required to disclose the purpose of gathered information.

While the laws governing personal privacy online are, in many cases, still undeveloped, as internet users, we must be careful to protect our own privacy. Many tools are available for that purpose. From computer virus protection and firewalls to choosing strict controls and strong passwords, you can enjoy all the benefits the internet has to offer without being victimized by the unsavory aspects.

Source:  My ISP Finder

Is your teen sharing too much online?

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Sue Scheff: CyberTipline – Keeping Your Teens and Kids Safe On and Offline

Just about everyone is aware of the dangers that can lurk online, but does everyone know there is help if you determine there has been a crime committed online or your child is being harassed?

Broward County Sheriff’s department has an Internet Safety page on their website which can help you learn more about online safety. Within this page you will learn about the CyberTipline which is available to everyone.

What is the CyberTipline?

The Congressionally-mandated CyberTipline is a means for reporting crimes against children including:

  • Possession, manufacture, and distribution of child pornography
  • Online enticement of children for sexual acts
  • Child prostitution
  • Sex Tourism Involving Children
  • Extrafamilial Child Sexual Molestation
  • Unsolicited Obscene Material Sent to a Child
  • Misleading Domain Names
  • Misleading Words or Digital Images on the Internet

Part of the campaign to help keep your teens and kids safe virtually is THINK! Before You Post.

Did you know:

Webcam sessions and photos can be easily captured, and users can continue to circulate those images online. In some cases people believed they were interacting with trusted friends but later found their images were distributed to others or posted on web sites.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens and children.

Must watch video and read more.

Sue Scheff: Consequences of SEXTING

Sexting is a word that years ago we would have not heard about.  Today teens and tweens are not only familiar with this word, many have suffered the consequences from it.

A Thin Line debuted on MTV this month that educates and informs parents, teachers, kids and everyone about the dangers of the digital world.

What is Sexting?

Sending or forwarding nude, sexually suggestive, or explicit pics on your cell or online. For some people, it’s no big deal. But real problems can emerge when the parties involved are under 18, when people get pressured into sexting, and when sexts go viral. – A Thin Line

What are the consequences of sending or receiving one?  There are many, however the most common are the feelings of humiliation, embarrassment and much worse.  The person that is in the photo can potentially suffer from extreme depression and even feelings of suicide. 

For the person sending them to go viral, there could be potential criminal charges.  You could get arrested. Taking, sending, and possessing naked images of a minor is a federal crime. Sex offenders’ registry? Not the honor roll you were hoping for.

Parents need to take the time to sit down and talk to their kids about sexting and how it can potentially ruin lives for a long time.  Review their phones or computers if you suspect that your child is participating in this activity.  Remember, there comes a time when safety trumps privacy and this could be one of those times.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Watch A Thin Line on Sexting in America.  Watch the four-part series with your children.

Read more on Examiner.

Face to Face – Talking Online – Taking it Off Line

facetoface1Source: ReputationDefender Blog

 

Taking it Offline: The Lingering Importance of Face-to-Face Networking in a Digital World

With the rise and blossoming of online networking sites like LinkedIn and ClaimID, many people, especially younger people, are doing the majority of their business networking online. This phenomenon is not anything new, and it has been covered in this blog and elsewhere.

 

But while it may be easier to sit in front of the computer screen and interact with your peers, it is hard to think that interpersonal relationships can ever be fully fleshed out (if you will) in the digital sphere. Face-to-face networking will never go away. The information on the Internet is not always accurate (although that doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant, according to Google’s algorithms), and there is a lot to be said for looking someone in the eyes.

 

Today people should try to balance their “new school” digital networking with the “old school” tried and true methods. The approach will literally double the amount of chances a person has to make an impact with a potential employer, and the effort required to do so is not unreasonable (point of fact, until a few years the “old school” method was the only game in town).

 

LinkedIn and other popular business networking sites thrive because they offer an alternative to actually speaking with a fellow networker. The information you put in the profile becomes the equivalent of a hand shake and a greeting. Thus, a user profile, for business purposes, should be looked at as an opportunity to distinguish yourself as someone others want to know and be connected to.

 

There are small and effective steps one can take to achieve this. Focus on brevity. 100 words is enough to grab someone’s attention and establish a positive image. If done correctly, a LinkedIn profile can, for practical purposes, be the difference between just another interview and a job offer. Conversely, a poorly written profile can have you knocked out of the running before you even get started.

 

Many employers look at LinkedIn as a sort of research tool. A resume can only say so much about a person, and employers are always looking to find out the little bits about a potential employee that are not immediately apparent. This fact has had disastrous consequences for some people whose Facebook and MySpace profiles contain otherwise unflattering images/language/etc. We’ve blogged that story here more than once.

 

Online business networking profiles are still just a piece of the puzzle, though. A successful blend of the old and the new networking techniques will counteract the deficiencies inherent in both approaches. A human touch in the new digital landscape goes a long way towards maintaining awareness and crafting image, while drawing in more localized business and opening channels previously untapped.

Sue Scheff: Slime Online – What is Google Saying about You?

slimonline2Yesterday my co-author, John Dozier  and I, announced our exciting new book that will be released in fall 2009 from Health Communications, Inc.  Then I read this article that I could really identify with. Slimed Online from Portfolio.com.

Michael Fertik, CEO and Founder of ReputationDefender, was powerful force in helping these women fight for their online image.  As a client of ReputationDefender, their services are priceless – although there seems to be many of these services popping up now, as the demand grows, I feel that in my experiences, the pioneer of these online reputation management companies start with ReputatationDefender.

Our new book, Google Bomb will be a must read for anyone and everyone that works and plays online. From protecting your online profile and reputation, to keeping your kids safe, this new book is a must have – and can potentially help you from being a victim of wicked and evil keystrokes.

Years ago gossip was limited to a geographically area that you live in.  Today gossip goes viral worldwide!  Your one former friend is now a foe or a few clients out of years of a reputable business have decided to take revenge via e-venge!  Take cover, Google Bomb can help you protect yourself.

Sue Scheff: Teen Internet Addiction

cyberbulliesFinding a Healthy Balance

Warning Signs your Teen May Be Addicted

Psychological and Physical Signs and Symptoms

If you are worried that your teen may be suffering from an unhealthy addiction to the Internet, there are many physical and mental warning signs to watch for. Many of these symptoms are very similar to those of depression and anxiety, another very serious condition affecting teens today. If you feel your teen is suffering from depression, please visit my website resource on teen depression and anxiety.

  • Feelings of intense happiness and euphoria while using the Internet, and feelings of depression, anxiety or irritability if away from the computer
  • Cravings for the Internet – Never having enough time with it
  • Neglecting family and friends – spending more time with the computer and less time doing activities previously enjoyed.
  • Getting behind on homework or school activities
  • Lying about what they are doing while online
  • Complains of dry eyes
  • Complains of Headaches
  • Complains of Backaches
  • Changes in eating habits such as skipping meals or over eating
  • Neglect of personal hygiene
  • Problems with sleep

What Should Parents Do?

  • Examine your Internet habits. Do you spend too much time in front of the screen? The habits of you and your family impact your teen. Be a good role model!
  • Look for the above warning signs, and take action if you feel your teen may be at risk. Seek professional help.
  • Always keep the computer in a common area of the home where it can be monitored by you.
  • DO NOT BAN THE INTERNET. Instead, work with your teen on a time schedule that feels fair to the both of you.
  • Encourage social activity outside of the Internet. Because chatting, emails, and other online social media make it easy for teens to stay at home, open the door to more outside activity. Plan events with friends and family.
  • Learn more click here.