Online safety: Top tips for protecting yourself from unwanted attention

Posted on Friday 15th February, 2013

Charlotte Fielder MBE
In the previous two articles, EDRIC Director and Online Safety Officer, Charlotte Fielder MBE, talked about how she became aware of amputee devotees and explained more about what to look out for. 

In this final piece, she offers top tips for keeping yourself safe online.  Some may seem are obvious but Charlotte has pitched this information to those who have the lowest level of awareness. 

To comment on these articles, please use our forum at RareConnect

Overall online safety

Weigh up the risks versus benefits Remember that social media is a hugely powerful tool for businesses and individuals.  It gives everyone the opportunity to connect with huge numbers of people very quickly and very easily.  This clearly has enormous benefits - but it also, inevitably, carries some risks. 

Never give out personal information online.  Incidents occur constantly and social media users need to keep on their guard so that their security is not threatened and privacy is not invaded by making choices about how much personal information they provide.  Users should make conscious choices.  If you don't want to be in the public eye then don't interact on public sites
Once it's online it's there FOREVER Always remember that any participation online can result in your comments and photos being permanently available and open to being republished in other media and that others may try and contact you. 

Don't libel anyone. It's tempting to publicly 'name and shame' but stay within the legal framework and be aware that libel, defamation, copyright and data protection laws apply.  Be careful what you say about people and what you accuse them of
Never, for any reason, agree to meet someone face to face that you met online.  Unless others are aware of the meeting and plan on going with you, this could be potentially very dangerous. 

When using Facebook

  • Only accept friend requests from people you know or know of
  • Keep in mind that no matter what your privacy settings - the internet is not private so if you post a photo anyone can save it and the photo can end up anywhere!
  • If you want to use the internet but retain your own privacy, then create your own pseudonym
  • If you are being pestered then lock down your privacy settings so that you can only be messaged by friends.
  • If you think that a devotee is stalking you - then block him.

When using Twitter

  • Check out your followers and who they are following and if you're unsure then block them. 

I hope I've alerted DysNet users rather than alarmed them.  It took me a while to accept that devotees exist and even longer to understand their behaviours. 

I've now made my peace with the simple fact that while 'Mr Mainstream' might be a 'breasts or legs' man, please keep in mind that it's only a small minority of men who feel their pulses race at the site of a shapely stump. 

Finally, I'm certainly not seeking to normalise devotees' behaviours or give them a platform.  I don't like being pestered by devotees, but they're out there and there is little that can be done about it other than take measures to safeguard your privacy.  I realise I've left readers a lot to think about and I welcome your feedback and comments. 

EDRIC and its online DysNet network encourages dialogue about all aspects of limb difference - please join in the conversation on our RareConnect Forum which is for people affected by limb differences.  It is safe and moderated and available in the main five European languages. 
You can find it here:

To download this article in its entirely in PDF format, visit the documents section on RareConnect

Tags: Amputee dysmelia limb difference devotee disability Charlotte Fielder DysNet Facebook twitter online safety Article Article Article


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