Violence against women and harassment are one of the most serious, yet most ignored issues we are facing today. Since awareness of the problem itself is the first step towards solving it, P@SHA (Pakistan Software Houses Association) has been one of the organizations that has been working on the Take Back the Tech campaign for the last 2 years to not only provide awareness, but also guidelines to prevent harassment. Several volunteers have contributed passionately to this campaign. There’s this desire in me to give back to society, in one way or another, that urges me to write this post today.
Today, we are living in the world of SMSes, status updates, tweets, and DMs/inbox messages. Using these technologies has its own perks, but they’ve made harassing, and stalking others as easy as clicking a button. However, by taking some basic precautions, you can minimize the risk of e-harassment. Here I’m posting some of these precautions.
- Almost every social networking website has privacy settings that can limit exposure of your personal information, including your pictures, phone number, and email address, to any unwanted user. Use those privacy settings to your advantage. Just spend a little time on understanding these privacy settings and exploring their options since it is your first line of defense.
- Some of you might be reluctant to put your picture on Facebook or maybe even go against it. But, I personally believe that you should have a picture of you on Facebook. It helps other in recognizing you. Who’d wanna be friends with someone having a butterfly’s picture? With that said, you should protect your pictures by using privacy settings on Facebook. If you have a lot of friends and you don’t want to show your picture to every other person you add, set your album’s privacy settings to custom, and add people/lists you want to share your album with.
- The need of expanding your network of people is understandable, rather appreciable in the era of social networking. However, don’t accept every other friend request you receive each day, especially from someone who “seems” fake to you. You can differentiate between a fake profile and a real one just by looking at the display picture and the type of friends that profile has.
- Sending vulgar and gender-biased pictures and text messages is a very common form of harassment. The following tips can be useful when dealing with someone who uses SMS/MMS and random calling to harass.
- If you’re receiving crank calls, you can easily block that number using block settings in your cellphone. A lot of cellphones provide those settings. If your cellphone doesn’t have the option to block phone calls from certain phone numbers, you can annoy the crank callec by receiving the call and putting the phone on hold. Many of them will try to call you a few more times after that, but once you’ve done it 3-4 times, and made them lose some of their credit, a lot of them would eventually stop making crank calls to you.
- However, sometimes these crank calls become more serious, i.e. when the caller threatens to do physical violence. When it comes to that, you should consult CPLC. They’re known to take action against such people. You can also contact your cell phone operators and ask them to block that number for you.
Those were some tips I could think of, feel free to add your comments and share if you have any tips to minimize the risk of e-harassment. Remember, awareness is the first step to solve any problem. Feedback is greatly appreciated.