Tech & Social Media Safety
Technology is ever-changing, and it can either jeopardize your safety or keep you safe. Abusive partners frequently use technology to track and control those they abuse. Here are some things to keep in mind as you use technology.
Did you know that someone can watch another person’s computer without the user knowing?
Did you know that “viewing history” cannot be completely erased from a computer?
Did you know that cell phone use can be monitored?
Did you know that a global positioning system (GPS) can be placed on your car, in your purse or in your cell phone?
Did you know some court systems post records online? These records may contain personal information.
Did you know that e-mail is like a postcard and can be intercepted?
If you have a feeling that you are being monitored, it is worth checking into.
There Are Ways to Ensure your Safety
If you are leaving an abusive situation, the way you use technology is critical. Our advocates can help you plan safe ways to use all forms of technology.
As you surf the internet on your computer, your computer stores the places you visit. Bills you pay and purchases you make are tracked. Instant messages and emails can be retrieved. Keep in mind that someone could monitor your use of a computer. Find safe computers at the local library, internet café, shelter, or work. Always use safe computers when researching things such as travel plans, housing options, legal issues, and safety plans.
Your abusive partner could have access to your email account. To be safe, open an email account your partner does not know about on a safe computer. Use that account for safety planning and sensitive communications. It is a good idea to use your old account for non-critical emails to maintain appearances. If you stop using it completely, your abuser will know you've switched emails.
Cell phones can be a beacon, tracking your exact location in real time. Call and text history can also be accessed by an abusive partner. Additionally, a location tracking device (GPS) can be placed on your car or in your purse. Consider purchasing a pay-as-you-go phone that you keep in a safe place to allow you to make calls.
Only post things you want the public to see or know. Once it’s online, it’s no longer under your control. Be protective of your personal information. Don't post your phone number, address, birthday, the schools you attended, or employer. Be aware of the pictures you share as well. Photos with landmarks may make it easier for someone to find where you live, hang out or go to school.
Communicate with others. Tell people not to post personal information or check-ins about you on social media. Ask people not to post or tag pictures if you’re not comfortable with it.
Keep your passwords private – there is no need to share passwords to social media accounts with anyone.
If you have a friend in an abusive relationship DO NOT post information about them without their permission. You could jeopardize their safety.
For more information, please contact the Iowa Victim Service Call Center at 1-800-770-1650.
Do you have a feeling that you are being monitored? Here are some things to remember
- Did you know that someone can monitor another person’s computer use without the user knowing?
- Did you know that a “history” cannot be completely erased from a computer?
- Did you know that cell phone use can be monitored?
- Did you know that a global positioning system (GPS) can be placed on your car, in your purse or in your cell phone?
- Did you know that e-mail can be intercepted?
To be certain of your safety, take the safety steps:
Change Passwords & Security Questions – It’s easy to use familiar names or dates when setting passwords and security questions. But the person who has abused you may know those names and dates as well. If so, they could access your bank, credit card, and social media accounts.
Be aware of Spyware & Hacking - If you think your abuser might be spying on your phone or computer, keep using it for non-secure tasks. Use it to make calls you aren't worried about being monitored or for looking things up. But use a safe phone or computer when you need to pay bills, make purchases, etc. Ask an advocate about where to find a safer phone or computer.
Set and Check Privacy Settings – On social media, if you are friends with an abuser, they may have access to your information. Check, set, and recheck the privacy settings on your social media pages to be sure your settings are up to date. Ask an advocate to show you how to do this.
Turn off GPS on All Electronic Devices – GPS can give someone the exact location where you are. GPS is on all cell phones, digital cameras, laptops, and other electronic devices. The person who harmed you can use GPS to track or find you. For instance, when you post a picture on a social media site, GPS allows the site to show where the picture was taken. Follow the steps in your user manual to turn off GPS on all electronic devices. Consider turning off GPS on your children’s devices, too.