31 March 2015

"The Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy" & my own privacy issues


This post is going to be a follow up on my post on the privacy issues I had with another blog/channel in the last months, plus I want to talk a bit about the ebook "The Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy", which I bought a few weeks ago, and about what I have changed in the past weeks regarding my online behaviour. 

First I want to give you an overview on the issues I had with a blog and youtube channel (both beauty, fashion, consumerism related). The issues began the first week after I posted my first video, I got a message from a man who asked me for a video of me applying lipstick, he even offered to pay me for it. Honestly I was shocked that someone I didn't know would ask me for something like that. Of course I declined and hoped that something like that would never happen again. But it did, in the last months I was contacted six times by men I didn't know, at first they were asking polite, pretty harmless questions regarding my videos and posts, after some messages things always got more personal and sexual, I always was shocked because I was friendly but nothing more. For a few moments I even wondered if I had done something wrong, but of course it wasn't my fault at all. Then someone went a step further and even called me at home, that was an absolute no go for me. Btw, unfortunately it's pretty easy to get a German blogger's private information because of some legal obligations regarding personal information here in Germany, I hate it but I'm also afraid to ignore it. 

What finally made me delete my Youtube channels were two emails in which the other person, once again men, had collected data on me from my social media sites, they felt as if they already knew me personally because they had seen my face in my videos and wanted closer contact. These two emails opened my eyes on all the little things I had shared on social media sites, often as answers to pretty harmless questions. I also realized that some people see sharing videos and pictures as an invitation for closer contact, especially some men seem to think that women on Youtube are interested in more than a friendly exchange. Some people might not be bothered by that, but I was.

In the last months I also learned that you don't have to answer all the questions you get. A few months ago someone asked me about my job, I politely declined to answer the question, the person who had asked me, this time a woman, was pretty pissed of because of my answer, she herself wanted to stay anonymous but expected me to be open about many things, just because I shared other things of my life through my videos and posts. It's easy to forget that most of the people who you have contact with online are absolute strangers, I learned the hard way to never forget this little fact.

I realized that I needed to change some things, that I needed to act a bit smarter online, I wanted to finally feel safe again. Btw, this is not and never will be about making people who share a lot of their private information online the ones responsible when someone misuses that data. When your data is misused you are the victim and nothing else.


Shortly after my first unfortunate online encounters I discovered "The Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy", I wanted to learn about potential dangers we deal with everyday online, I wanted to learn about how to act smarter online, how to feel safer.
The book gives a good overview on most dangerous situations you can get into online, there are a lot of practical tips to make your online experience safer and more relaxed. Of course not everything was interesting to me (online dating for example) and some things were specific to US laws (understandable), but still this short ebook made me realize that being a bit more careful online never hurts and that it's not that hard to change some things.

A lot of the info in the book can of course also be found online on various sites, but here you have all in one place which can be practical for people starting to inform themselves on the topic. To get started you can also take the free privacy test on The Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy tumblr, it's a nice way to start your thinking process on your online behaviour. 

After reading the book, after thinking long and hard about my own experiences with my old blog/channel I decided to change some things, I

  • deleted both my Youtube channels (the book one and the beauty one), I'm no longer comfortable with sharing videos of me
  • deleted no longer used accounts I had on various sites (there were way too many)
  • deleted some apps I didn't use, thank goodness there were only three of them, I'm not that into apps on my smartphone
  • looked through my privacy settings on Facebook (everything was ok)
  • removed selfies from Instagram
  • deleted everything that had to do with the account I had privacy issues with
  • deleted some comments on various social media sites (I was way too open in the past)
  • thought long about what I want to share in the future with the internet aka a lot of people I don't know personally (definitely less than before)
  • decided to be more careful in general but still have fun online
  • put a post-it on the front camera on my phone and on my Mac
  • decided to no longer share my face in general on the internet

While doing all these things I also took the time to clean up my Mac in general, to do some spring cleaning, it's something I would recommend to everyone who works on a computer regularly, I realized that a clean computer is a fast computer.

I'm still thinking and learning about same other stuff like password security, cookies, search engines to name a few, so I might change some more things in the future, however this time nothing should change here on the blog.

I know that some people might think that I'm too worried about my online life, but that's ok with me. Everyone has to decide for themselves what to share online and what not, where to set boundaries and where not. I would still urge everyone to think for some time about your online behaviour, about what you share with the world, would you be comfortable with sharing these things with strangers on the street? How much info could someone collect on you just by looking at your social media sites and so on? How many accounts on various sites and apps do you really need? I also think that the need to share so many little things of your life online takes away some of the excitement of just living your life, of enjoying the moment and being happy.

I hope that you all will have a safe and fun time while being online. 

6 comments:

  1. Oh, wow, I'm so sorry that you had to go through this. A call at home, this is so freaking scary. I can't believe you still have your contact information online. I'd be more scared of those creeps ringing my doorbell than of legal consequences for not putting it on my blog :0
    When somebody asks me a personal question and I don't mind answering it, I try to do so through e-mail or private message. That way it won't be up for everyone to see at least and I can kind of control who gets this information about me.

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    Replies
    1. I know someone who had legal issues because of a missing impressum, that's why I'm hesitant about removing it. All in all the whole impressung thing is just shitty and I hope that someday it will be changed.

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    2. I see, that makes sense. Still, some time ago I read that you only have to have in imprint if you have some commercial exchanges on your blog like review copies or ads, I guess. But maybe that's the case with your blog, I don't know :)

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    3. I don't have any review copies, affiliate links or ads on the blogs, but still hear different things on if that means I need an impressed or not, it's all a bit confusing to be honest. I still hope that the legal obligation will change in some ways, but I'm note sure when, but I still have some hope left.

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    4. Yeah, every source seems to say something differently :/
      Love your new layout, btw :)

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    5. So true and thanks. Of course I didn't design it myself, I can't draw at all. :)

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