Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How to Protect Your Online Rep From Spammers & Scammers

I had the privilege of collaborating with friend and colleague, Karen S. Elliott. Karen and I are on a mission to to spread the word about how to protect your online reputation from pesky scammers and spammers. 

About Karen S. Elliot
Karen was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle in a day. Their favorite expression was, Look it up! Karen reads punctuation and grammar manuals for fun. Her favorite book is the dictionary.

Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, writer, and grandmother. You can find her at her website, The Word Shark and her blog. Connect with Karen on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Part I - by Karen S. Elliott & Therese Pope

From Karen –
I had an old “friend” contact me via FB. I remembered as soon as I saw her name why I stopped being friends with her. I did not want to connect with her and told her so. She came back with an abusive email (ah, the memories) about what a lousy friend I had been, about all the favors she’d done for me in the past, etc. Made me wonder, “If I was such a lousy friend, why did she want to renew contact?” I blocked her. Problem solved.

My experience –
I had a client who had a stalker on Facebook that escalated into a harassing situation. The stalker sent my client’s editor a crazed message about him, and claimed he was a fraud, etc. She went on a rampage and proceeded to stalk him on other article sites and left nasty comments. Stalker-lady then left disparaging comments and attacked me and my company on an article site. The client and I took action immediately and contacted the site’s editor. I received a personal phone call from the editor, and they assured me they would not tolerate stalkers who attack their writers. Stalker-lady was banned as a result of the action we took.

How to Protect Your Computer

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." – Benjamin Franklin. Wise words and he didn’t have social networking.

We should all have spyware, web protection, virus protection, etc. installed on our computers. If you don’t have virus software installed, check out the following anti-virus software: McAfee, Avast, AVG, etc.  


At this point, all email programs have automatic spam filters. You can also set additional parameters for blocking odd emails. Mark incoming mail “spam” if it looks suspect or block specific email addresses. Best bet – don’t open any email if you do not recognize the address. And for goodness sake, don’t open attachments from anyone you don’t know!

Your social networking


It’s best to set up parameters when you first start your page, however most of us just started a Facebook page and floundered through. From Karen: “My son was going to Iraq and he wanted me to join Facebook, so I did. I didn’t investigate anything, I just started a page.”

My experience: I originally joined Facebook because I have siblings in the military and they were stationed all over the country and world, and it is easier to keep in touch via Facebook updates.

As we all know, Facebook changes applications without consulting any of us billions of users, so check your security periodically.

Maintain a modicum of privacy on your Facebook profile. Allow little to show except basic information until you are friends with someone. Don’t “accept friend request” without knowing who that person is, how or why they are approaching you, or what their intent is.   

How to create privacy settings for new Timeline:
Go to Privacy Settings > How Tags Work and change the settings for "Maximum Timeline Visibility" from "Public" to "Friends."

If you're super-intense, you can change those settings to "Custom" and choose "Only Me" -- then you'll be the only one who can see the posts.

Limit your past posts -- which may have been made public at the time -- to Friends only. To do this, go to "Limit the Audience for Past Posts" and click "Manage Past Post Visibility," then "Limit Old Posts." This will change all past posts to Friends-only, even if you initially made them public.

From the Facebook Security pages: “Once you block someone, that person can no longer be your friend on Facebook or interact with you (except within apps and games you both use and groups you are both a member of).”

Reporting abuse or policy violations -


Watch for comments @your-name-here. You can set Twitter parameters so that everything with @your-name-here is delivered to your email (if email is the first thing you check, this might be helpful).

If you realize a tweeter has a problem with you or the comments escalate, consider “Report a Violation” under Help Center Guidelines and Best Practices, Safety Center, Reporting Violations. Then block, unfollow, protect.

How to block users on Twitter -

WordPress Blog  

Handling and reporting abuse -

Set safety parameters on your Dashboard, along the left side list of options, go down to Settings, Discussion, and it will take you to page that says Discussion Settings. Set parameters as you see fit.

Dashboard drop-down menu under the Blog Tab – Manage Comments – you’ll see Unapprove | Reply | Quick Edit | Edit | History | Spam | Trash. Pick whatever response is necessary to manage individual comments made on your blog.

You can also delete troll comments. Go to Dashboard, Comments. When the comments list pops up, click the little box to the left of the commenter’s icon. Under Bulk Actions - Unapprove, Mark as Spam, or Move to Trash; then Apply.

 Blogger (Blogspot)

After logging into your Blogger account, go to the Settings | Posts and comments tab. Under the Comments settings, choose accordingly. If you want to moderate comments that people leave on your blog: under “Comment Moderation?” click on “Always”. You will receive an “Awaiting Moderation” message. You will then need to review and manually approve comments. If you receive spam comments, you can report them as “spam” and pesky spammers will be blocked from leaving comments on your blog.

According to Blogger (run by Google):
Here are some examples of content we will not remove unless provided with a court order:
  • Personal attacks or alleged defamation
  • Parody or satire of individuals
  • Distasteful imagery or language
  • Political or social commentary”
 For more helpful tips on how to report abuse, check out Blogger’s Support Section.

Stay tuned – tomorrow Karen and I will post Part II which includes LinkedIn and Google+. We will also share loads of websites with information on what to do and who to contact if you think you are being targeted or stalked.

1 comment:

  1. This was a great collaboration, Therese. Very pertinent information in this day and age. I'm fortunate I haven't really been stalked - I hope I never have to deal with that. And it feels good to get the word out about internet safety and security.


Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

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