‘School photo’ social media trend could leave kids vulnerable to predators: Police

As students adjust to return to school this fall, law enforcement members and online safety experts are reminding parents to be vigilant about information they share on social media. This can give predators access to children and give scammers access to personal information.

“We’re not saying No To share,” Deputy Sheriff Tim Creighton of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office in Woodstock, Illinois, recently told Fox News Digital.

“I have people on my feed to this day. They’re sharing too much information.”

“Less is better,” he said. “Your close friends and family know important details about your children, such as the city they live in, the school they attend, their full names. Strangers don’t need to know this. ,

Last month, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office shared a viral Facebook photo of Creighton showing what he meant. They put up a sign to celebrate the first day of school – one that shared a lot of personal information.

“It is that time of year!” The sheriff’s office captioned the image.

“Do not give information to predators, fraudsters or thieves that could be used to harm your children, family or finances.”

police alert
Parents who are oversharing on social media can leave their children open to predators.
McHenry County Sheriff’s Office

The first warning was posted on August 8, 2021 – and was shared by 135,000 Facebook users.

“It protects the child, but we also did it for the parent,” Creighton told Fox News Digital in 2021.

“A lot of people were commenting [how] They never thought about it… It was an important security message that was designed in an engaging way.”

Creighton, who is also a school resource officer, told Fox News Digital that the viral image has been posted publicly and as a reminder to parents and caregivers to “think before you share.” As reposted.

“Cyber ​​security, Internet passwords, fraud, sex trafficking – there is a lot,” Creighton says of the various reasons some details should be left out.

Deputy Sheriff Tim Creighton
Oversharing can also lead to identity fraud.
Deputy Sheriff Tim Creighton/MCH

The Facebook snapshot shows Creighton holding a poster titled, “My first day of school.”

The left side shares fake information such as the child’s name, age, grade, teacher and school name. Those personal details in the image on the right are blurry – clearly suggesting that it is unsafe to include these details in a photo shared on social media.

Creighton said the following details should be left out when sharing photos or life updates for the entire school year and beyond: school name, age, teacher’s name and grade, identifying characteristics (height, weight, etc.) and excessive Personal information such as a password or answer to a security question.

“This information … could be used by predators, scammers and others who could put your child, family or finances at risk,” the Facebook caption said.

“No matter your privacy settings or friends list, it’s best to keep personal information on the Internet to a minimum.”

Deputy Sheriff Tim Creighton
Deputy Sheriff Tim Creighton says scammers can use children’s names and dates of birth in passwords.
Deputy Sheriff Tim Creighton/MCH

Often, people will use more information in their child’s name, date of birth and password, Creighton said. Identity theft can result if too much is given online.

To enhance this year’s message about Internet safety, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office created a new post in August. It gives advice to parents on what to watch on their children’s Instagram accounts to ensure privacy.

He shared these tips:

1. Is the account private — and not viewable by people who are not approved followers?

2. What is the child’s username? Does it give any important information?

3. How many followers do the children have and who are they following? Are these strangers or people they know in real life?

4. Is his profile picture appropriate for his age? Does it give any important information? It is viewable to the public no matter what.

5. What information is in his bio? This information is also accessible to the public.

Donna Rice Hughes is an Internet security expert and the President and CEO of Reston, Virginia-based Enough Is Enough, a non-profit group seeking to maximize Internet safety for children and prevent online exploitation.

Hughes echoed advice from the sheriff’s office, warning families against oversharing (for both children and parents), even if the accounts are set to “private.”

Hughes told Fox News Digital, “The sharing of personally identifiable information on social media about a child may have unintended consequences, including being used by a sexual predator or trafficker to track or harm a child.” Is.”

“In addition to using privacy settings and parental controls, parents are encouraged to teach their children to be as anonymous as possible in the digital world. [They should] Model the same behavior yourself and create an environment of trust and accountability with your child, communicating regularly about device use and online interactions.”

Enough Is Enough shared a safety message on their webpage, encouraging Family to use parental controls As an added layer of security on all Internet-enabled devices, including “smartphones, computers, tablets and gaming systems”.

The organization said that parents can use the parental control tool to do the following:

1. Set up filters to block inappropriate content, including pornography.

2. Set up monitoring/accountability tools to track app usage, website visits, email, messaging and other Internet activities. Monitoring also provides detailed reports on the child’s online activities.

3. Set a time limit.

4. Block inappropriate apps or games.

5. Set up parent-approved friend and gamer lists to limit the people with whom the child can communicate.

On Sunday, Award-Winning National Technical Contributor Kurt Knutson, aka The Cyberguy, Appeared on “Fox & Friends Weekend” to address “sharing” – the practice of parents sharing photos and videos of their children on social media.

Not only could oversharing details about children and their schools potentially harm them, but Knutson agreed that disclosing too much about birthday parties, soccer games, etc. could present problems.

“share” [is] It’s the idea that’s coined, that’s about parents,” Knutson said. “Big tech really taught us to just constantly take pictures, upload them, share our kids’ moments, our whole family’s lives. Is.”

Some parents, Knutson said, may take sharing to the “extreme” and not realize the many dangers or risks that may be involved.

“On the low end, you have advertisers who are using AI software. They’re building profiles of every human being so they can understand, ‘Wow, how do we get Rachel? We’re going to have Rachel’s kids as advertisers. How can you answer what you want to sell?’” he said.

“We get it… Technology moves on and it’s part of life. But then you have the fact that AI software is now on the black market and on the dark web, where people are now using the bad side of it to profile people. are to make, and they don’t care how old they are.”

Knutson said the software has the potential to get “crazy specific.”

This technology then detects where a person lives, or where and when The child participates in sports exercises, For example.

Knutson gives these important tips: Use antivirus protection, avoid sharing every moment related to your kids, check social media privacy settings and request that your loved ones either stop sharing or stop sharing information and/or Ask your permission before sharing a picture of your child.

Creighton agreed.

“Even your friends may not have the same privacy settings that you do,” Creighton said, Parents should remind grandparents To check your privacy settings before re-sharing a post or image.

“You can have very strict security settings, but they [might not] – So be careful.”

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