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Online Safety for Survivors

NNEDV participated in a twitter chat hosted by @DataPrivacyDay on online safety and privacy for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Here's a recap of the conversation, more of our thoughts, and some great resources.


  1. Online safety is a major concern for many survivors of domestic and sexual violence. We live in a data-driven world where even if we aren't sharing our secrets, someone else is. For some survivors, the sharing of their personally identifying information, either by themselves or others, may be dangerous. 

    Online safety often starts with privacy settings. Privacy settings help us to limit who sees what we share. Security settings are also important since they help you maintain control of your accounts. 
  2. Check out Stay Safe Online's page below on where to find privacy settings for many websites and devices.
  3. Keep in mind, however, that even with privacy settings, if it's online, it is possible that someone who you don't want to may see it.
  4. Online safety and privacy is more than just what we share online or on social media. Personally identifying information that is shared offline, whether you're at the store and they want your phone number or you donated to a charity, can end up online. So be cautious about what you share. Ask them (or read their privacy policy) to learn what they do with your information and whether you can opt out. You can also use a virtual number like Google Voice so you don't have to give out your personal phone number. 
  5. In addition to what we and others share about us, remember that privacy and safety can be compromised by the technology we use. So go ahead, put that post-it note over your laptop camera. No, you're not being paranoid.
  6. For further security, you can download an "https-everywhere" add-on for your browser. This will ensure that when you use your web browser to surf the net, your browser will try to find the secure site. You can find the download by going to the second link below from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. 
  7. Smartphones are another device that holds and shares a lot of information about us. Review the settings on your phone to limit your location sharing - you might be sharing without meaning to. Put a passcode on your phone so that if someone else picks it up, they can't go through your stuff. Also be thoughtful when downloading apps because apps gather a lot of information about us as well.
  8. And, of course, don't forget that apps on your phone can track your location. But it's easy to manage it by going into your phone settings and turning it off. 
  9. Spyware can be downloaded onto your phone if someone has access to your phone or you inadvertently open and install links or attachments. Don't allow other people access to your phone, since most cell phone spyware require access to the device to install. Don't download or open attachment or links from people you don't know or think may want to track you. As much as you can, know what applications are on your phone. If you don't know what it is, delete it. 
  10. So what can we do to help survivors stay safe while online ?