New,the,Net,amp,#58,Safe,Chatt DIY New to the Net: Safe Chatting
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New to the Net: Safe ChattingBy Linda C. AllardiceOne of the first places I visited when I signed up for my Internet service way back in 1993 was the public chat rooms. It was so fascinating to have all these strangers gather together and talk about everything from politics to just how much they really hated their bosses. My mouth gaped like a sea bass when I noticed some folks spilling their guts onto the computer screen and admitting to stuff that should be kept secret such juicy gossip I couldnt get at my hairdresser on one of her busiest days.Chat rooms are still enormously popular, but the rules of safety remain as steadfast as a palace guard.If youre new to the Web, youve got to be extremely careful in chat rooms. There are some major donts you need to follow to keep your chatting an enjoyable yet safe experience. Dont ever for whatever reason enter your real name, address, city, phone number, password, or any other personal information into a chat room discussion.Oftentimes, a perpetrator who may want to hack into your computer -- or worse your home -- can come up with clever ways to get inexperienced Internet users to reveal personal information. They might get you to talk about landmarks, places of interest in your community, where you work or go to school to zero in on your location. Dont respond to Instant Messages if you dont know the sender.Instant Messages are those private messages that pop up on your screen apart from the main chat room. Some are easy to detect as spammers when they send you an IM saying they are a model and want you to look at their pictures. That screams yes, I am a porno perp loud and clear. Some spammers have password sniffers on their end that can snatch your password if you reply to the message. One they have your password they can have a field day with your account.Spammers might send you an IM that says Warning: you cannot continue in the Chat Room without entering your password here. This catches many new Internet and some veterans off guard and they mistakenly comply with the request. Go to a private chat room if possible.Some Internet providers allow patrons to create their own rooms that are somewhat semi-private. Its a great place for family, friends or business associates to hang out without getting clobbered by unwanted intruders and spammers.Another drawback with public chat rooms is that everyone Tom, Dick and Harry gets your screen name and clogs your e-mail box with junk mail.If you dare enter a public chat room, be prepared to have an e-mail box full of credit card offers, specials on Viagra, and sites that promise nude pics of your favorite celebrities for FREE. If you dont want to fight, find another roomStay in a chat room long enough, and the place begins to turn into a bar with someone eventually typing in capital letters (viewed as SHOUTING) claiming God doesnt exist. Or someone will spill enough racial slurs onto the screen that would even make Archie Bunker cringe. These arguments can get pretty heated because everyone is anonymous, shooting their mouths off, and taking some nasty shots at others. Dont engage in hate speech or get involved with those trying to make trouble. Some chat rooms allow you to ignore certain people, or even allow you to report those who are disrupting the chat room.* Dont let your children enter public chat rooms without supervisionToo many children are taken advantage of in these chat rooms and terrible things have happened to them. Sometimes, they believe they are chatting with someone their own age, when they are really chatting with an older person who spends his time on the Internet trying to lure children into a trap. Make sure your children never reveal their names, telephone number, address, school name, password, state, city, or where their parents work, in a chat room or IM.No one wants to be taken advantage of, so its especially important that you keep your guard up when you enter public chat rooms. Enjoy chatting with folks from around the world, but remember to keep that line of not-giving-out-personal-information deeply drawn in the sand, and dont cross it. . .ever.