Thursday, 26 January 2012

Gary Glitter On Twitter?

Hi all,

Some of you may have read the recent news articles regarding the Gary Glitter account set up on Twitter. If you haven't, this is the story:

Disgraced pop star Gary Glitter apparently set up an account on social media website Twitter last week. The singer tweeted news of a comeback tour, an album and an autobiography, however the account turned out to be fake and was just created as a “Social Experiment”.

The person behind this account, known only as “Ben” revealed the hoax by posting a link to his blog ( however this has since been deleted for an unknown reason. Ben explained “Let me say that this account does not belong to convicted paedophile Gary Glitter. I am deeply disgusted by what Gary Glitter has done in his life and am not condoning, making light of or glorifying child abuse. His crimes are unforgivable and chilling. I set this twitter account up as a social experiment to highlight the dangers and safety of children using the social networking sites and to discover and question public morality. It's been an interesting and eye-opening experience for me.”

He went on to explain that the reason for the account was to highlight the dangers of internet safety- primarily children using websites such as Twitter and Facebook. He explained that Facebook has a strict rule that states that any person registered as a sex offender is not allowed to use their site, however Twitter does not have such restrictions. They didn't attempt to contact him when the account was set up despite being a well known convicted sex offender - however they have zero tolerance for any discussion of child sexual abuse.

Within 48 hours, the @OfficialGlitter account had over 2,000 followers, and had received media attention from several well known organisations and Newspapers, as well as celebrity followers.
Ben says that although most of the tweets were opposed to him being on Twitter, there were a large amount that were positive. 

An interesting point about this is that anyone can set up an account like this claiming to be official.
Anyone can pretend to be anyone else online. An example Ben used in this case is: imagine that a sex offender set up an account on Twitter claiming to be a Justin Bieber fan club. Imagine how many young followers that would get. Now imagine that even with privacy settings on, if your child sees that the club is willing to “follow” them, they will more than likely accept.

The person in charge of that account will then be able to directly message your child privately, as well as having access to all their images.

Very scary thought. Terrifying in fact. Especially when Twitter doesn't even have a “report abuse” button.

There isn't a way of preventing convicted sex offenders from using the internet as it would be impossible to police and it would also “breach their human rights”. The only thing you can really do is discuss internet safety with your kids about the types of things that are acceptable to post & to encourage them to make you aware if they receive any sort of inappropriate contact – no matter who it's from. We'll all just have to be vigilant in this changing world and stay up-to-date with new technologies, privacy policies and pay extra attention to children's online activity.

Thanks for reading

NB: I'm not suggesting that any Justin Bieber fan clubs on twitter are run by paedophiles.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Gossiping - Good or Bad?

Hi all!

As it was the most depressing Monday of the week this week (according to scientific study), sometimes there can be nothing better than a little gossiping – particularly about celebrities. Let's be honest, everyone has done it at some point, even about people they know whether it was meant to be malicious or not.

Providing you're not at the receiving end of said gossip, it can help to relieve stress and feelings of sadness. Gossiping can get out of hand pretty quickly though, especially when it is malicious, and even more so when the people gossiping are kids.

Lately, there has been several news stories regarding one website, with one school in Dorking, Surrey petitioning to have it shut down following complaints from parents after their children had been bullied online by having rumours spread about them.

The site is called Little Gossip, and for those who haven't heard of it, it's a website where anyone (providing they are over 18) can post comments about anyone else in their school, college, uni or workplace. Users don't even need to enter any details about themselves to sign up & post “new gossip”. Everything on the website is anonymous. Although you have to be over 18 to use the site, it doesn't stop kids from misusing it, since all they have to do to gain access is to tick a box and click a button. There are no other questions asked!

Little Gossip's creators claim that the website is designed to “create some deep, clean, insightful and interesting conversation – as well as out and out gossip”. However it’s obviously not being used in this way. The site is only moderated by it’s members so only reacts when someone makes a complaint about certain comments.

I wanted to see what sort of things are being posted on there, so I did a quick search and came across a posting from a college (although there are still school’s listed on there. This is what I found:


There is an option to report these, however it's likely that similar posts will reappear regardless.
Like most websites, users get around the restrictions such as swear word blockers by spacing out characters and using numbers instead of letters etc, which makes it even more difficult for the website to be monitored. As members are not supposed to be under 18 using this site, they shouldn’t be able to add their school as a list of places, but unfortunately, kids are also adding their school names by shortening them or changing the spelling.

My advice to any parent concerned about this site is to try and search for the school’s name on there, and then report it to the site so they can take it down. The people behind Little Gossip say that they are against cyber bullying, but I think if this were the case, then they would take a lot more time to patrol the site themselves to remove slanderous comments.

I reported the above comment to LittleGossip by clicking on the “Report” button next to the post. I was then given a short form to fill in:

Although to actually report this comment, I had to star (*) out the bad words, and also tick all the boxes at the bottom even though it did include that content. Realising that, after a few attempts, I was presented with this message:

I don’t think I made the site much more positive, but it’s a start. This is another reason why I like working for GBK, I am one of the people that constantly monitor the site for these types of comments – they are removed instantly and members are warned about their actions, and as we’re real people, we don’t just have to rely on the swear word blockers to pick up on them!

To see news articles on this Click HereHere

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Safety/Parental Control Settings For Apple Devices

It’s likely that many children may have received an Apple device from Santa this year, and you probably know that newer iPods, and iPads & iPhones all have access to the internet. Browsing the internet on these devices is no different to browsing the internet on a PC – except you can’t install programmes to block certain information being accessed on them. So how can you protect your kids in the same way you would on a PC without standing over their shoulder the whole time? Although you should always keep a check on what your kids are accessing online, luckily, the majority of devices (like the ones mentioned above) now have these sorts of security features built in.

The following screenshots are taken from an iPhone, however, I think that most Apple devices are similar and should have similarities between their settings & parental restrictions.

Firstly, you will need to enter the “settings” for the phone which can be found on your iPhone's homescreen (somewhere, depending where you keep it):

Once inside, you will see a list of different things to customise. I would suggest turning off the “Location Services” if the device is for your child as if they use apps such as Facebook etc, everytime they update their status, it'll also update their location. 

Next, go into the “General” settings:
Inside the General settings, you can choose to put a “Passcode Lock” on your phone (which will be handy if your child is just using your device now and again and you don't want to give them access all the time). A passcode consists of a four digit number you can choose yourself to stop others from gaining access once the phone has been locked.

Note: If you have one, make sure your passcode is easy to remember but difficult for others to guess i.e. don’t use “0000”, “1234”, your birth year or your child’s as these will be easy to guess (especially by your child!).

Next go to “Restrictions:

The Restrictions menu offers you the chance to add parental controls onto the device for things like the internet browser (Safari), Youtube, installing and deleting apps etc. It also lets you control what media can be played on the device. For example, if your child wanted to use your iPod to listen to their music, but you also had explicit music on there too, you can select an option that will prevent any explicit songs from playing. 

Most game applications on the iPhone (and probably iPods and iPads) can be played online with another person. The other player is selected through the “Game Center” at random and you can have the option to add that player to your friends list to play with again if you choose. To my knowledge, I don’t think you are able to converse with friends on the Game Center as there are no chat functions but if you wish to turn this option off anyway, you can also do this in the Restrictions menu:

I think I’ve covered the majority of the settings for the iPhone. If I have missed anything out then please leave me a comment as you’ll be educating me and anyone else who sees this post!

Thank You

Friday, 6 January 2012

Twitter Privacy Settings – A “How-To” Guide

Following on from my last two posts about the security settings on Facebook & Google+, I thought i'd take a look at Twitter's. A lot of users have recently started switching from Facebook to Twitter due to Facebook's new complicated changes associated with their new Timeline feature.
As a lot of these users are preteens and teenagers I wanted to show you a way of making them safer.
Before I learnt how to restrict who followed me on Twitter, I clicked on my followers one day and was quite surprised that quite a few were from sex websites (although at first glance appeared to be genuine people). The problem with not checking who is following you or restricting who does, is that anyone who can see your profile can also see your followers and can easily click on the links included in their profiles. Another problem is that if the account is not set to private and your child is identifying the location of where they're posting from, it leaves them vulnerable to predators.

Once you log into Twitter, you'll see Tweets from all the different people/organisations you have chosen to “follow” & receive updates from. To change your privacy settings, click on the silhouette of the person in the top right hand corner and select “settings” from the drop down menu. 

Under the “Account” heading, you can choose to make your profile private or public along with other options. Below is a screenshot to show which is the best options to select if you child uses Twitter:
If you have already included your location in previous tweets, you won’t need to go back through them all and delete them, just click on the link on the same settings page as above:
Don’t forget to click “Save” and that’s it really. Just don’t forget to have a chat with you kids about the types of things they shouldn’t post – on ANY social network! I hope you’ve found this information useful if you didn’t already know about it, please spread the word!

Thanks For Reading

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Privacy Settings On Google+ - A "How-To" Guide

I know that not that many people use Google+ as most are still hooked on Facebook (I am one of those people) but I also own a Google+ profile. In many ways, I find Google+ to be a much better social network as it has MUCH less “stuff” going on with it – the privacy settings are also a lot simpler and you won’t have to search online to find out how to delete your account as that’s also been made far more straightforward. For these reasons, this will be quite a small guide.

Similar to Facebook, when you log into Google+ you’ll see recent updates from your Circles (circles are groups of friends or other people you can follow) but it also shows “What's hot on Google+” to help you discover new content on the internet (a bit like Twitter's trending topics feature). To view your privacy settings on Google+, click the cog icon in the top right hand corner:
As you can see from just this small section of the privacy options in the next screenshot, the information is lot easier to understand and a lot easier to navigate than Facebook's. At the moment, parts of my profile are Public, which means they could be found on a search engine or if someone happened to click on my profile through one of their friend's lists. I haven't included any personal information in the public sections of the profile so i'm not really bothered by this. If you want to select which parts of your profile you want to make private or public though, you can click the button saying “edit visibility on profile” and then following the instructions from there:

Next you can click “Google+” on the left hand menu which will show how people can connect with you:

I would suggest changing all these options to “friends only” if the account belongs to your child.

All your chosen security settings should now be customised to your own preferences. I hope you found this guide useful, if I’ve missed something out or you’d like more detail on something I’ve mentioned then leave me a comment & i’ll try to help, but as i’m not an employee of Google, then I may not be able to give you the best advice!


Privacy Settings On Facebook – A “How To” Guide

Hi there, I hope you've had a good Christmas & a good start to the new year! I've tried to come up with a very basic guide to set up privacy features on Facebook for you or your kids (if they use it), although i'm pretty sure that this little guide of mine will be out of date very soon since the privacy settings on Facebook are forever changing. Until a few weeks ago, I didn't realise HOW much they had changed since the last time i'd set everything up.

When you first log into Facebook, you'll be presented with your Newsfeed – this is where you will see updates of everything your friends are doing which refreshes frequently. Generally, only the people you interact with most will appear.

To change the privacy settings for your account you will need to select them in the top right hand corner of the screen:

Once you're in your privacy settings page, you will see an explanation of how the privacy settings work. You can also select the “Default Privacy” options of “Public”, “Friends” or “Custom” - I have selected Custom for my own account – here you can choose to share your posts with most of your friends and stop certain friends from seeing them or vice versa.

Once you have decided on your default privacy, there are quite a few other things you need to look at which can be found on the same page as your default privacy options:

If you click on “edit settings” next to “How you connect”, you will see a popup box displaying how people will be able to find you on Facebook and contact you:

 Again, here you can customise these options if you wish.

The next option is controlling how tags work. Tags are when someone uploads a photo of you or updates a status and wants to include you in it. Other people that are friends with the tagee will be able to see your name on their photos/status updates and click on them to see your profile. If you don't want strangers to be able to see your kids' profile when their friends upload photos of them (which will probably happen as some point!) then i'd suggest turning this option off.
Next is “Apps, games and websites” - in here you can change the option so your name won't be discoverable via a search engine (Public Search) – I'd also suggest turning this off for your child. Another option to keep an eye on is “Instant Personalisation”, this isn't available to me yet but is enabled as a default so it's worth checking to see if you can disable it. This allows partners of Facebook to display YOUR image on their own websites.

If you're concerned about what information you or your child is sharing with Facebook, you can download a copy of all your information from the “Account Settings” which can be found just under Privacy Settings in the dropdown menu in the top right hand corner.

I hope you've found this little guide useful. If I haven't explained something then feel free to ask me and i'll try to help – although I don't work for Facebook so I may not be able to!

Thanks For Reading