Online Stranger Danger

What’s the one thing your parents warn you about when you’re young?  Strangers.

With today’s new technologies, you can meet them online not just face to face. Online social media sites pose serious threats.

On websites like Facebook, Tumblr, Myspace, and Twitter you can meet and talk with strangers without even having met them in person. Some strangers are dangerous people. They will try to become your friend and withdraw important information from you. These types of people are known as predators.

Online predators are potentially more dangerous than in-person because you don’t know the person on the other side of the computer screen. You may be talking to someone completely different than who you think you are talking to.

There is no real safe way of knowing who is true and who is not when it comes to online strangers.

I spoke with Groveland Police Department Jim Morton and asked him what online predators actually are. Morton said “Online predators can be any age and any denomination, male or female, young or old.” It is frightening though: Predators can be anyone.

Detective Morton added that online predators search chat rooms for anyone willing to talk and they look for vulnerabilities. Most of the time they’ll seek information from you of a personal nature and find out what you like and play off that. They try to find an opening.

Morton explained the process predators go through. They will talk with you and deeper into the conversation, then ask more personal questions about what you’re like. Morton said that predators might attempt to share pictures with you and maybe discuss a meeting at some point.

“The danger of online predators is that they have a plan in mind” added the detective. “And the majority of the time they’re not who they say they are and the person the predator is trying to meet with has no idea who the predator really is or what their intent is.”

It’s important to stay safe in today’s modern world. If you want to talk to someone online that you don’t know in person don’t give out any detailed personal information. It’s difficult to pinpoint why predators search for people online because each person has different reasons.

To stay safe, if there is someone you’re really very interested in talking to, try to verify who they are first. If you meet in person, meet in a public, busy place and bring your phone or a friend you trust.

It is okay to have fun, but be wary of online strangers and make safe choices.