Resources

Tech & Social Media Safety

Technology is ever-changing, and it can be used to jeopardize your safety or as a means to keep you safe. Since power and control issues are a part of domestic violence, abusive partners frequently use technology to monitor and control those they abuse. Here are some things to help keep in mind as you use technology.

Do you have a feeling that you are being monitored? Here are some things to make note of.

  • Did you know that someone can monitor another person’s computer use without the user knowing?
  • Did you know that a “history” cannot be completely erased from a computer?
  • Did you know that cell phone use can be monitored?
  • Did you know that a global positioning system (GPS) can be placed on your car, in your purse or in your cell phone?
  • Did you know the some court systems are placing court records online and that they may contain personal information?
  • Did you know that e-mail is like a postcard and can be intercepted?

There Are Ways to Ensure your Safety

Technology is a powerful tool for someone leaving a domestic violence situation, and our hotline advocates can help you (whether you are a victim, friend or family member) plan to use all aspects of technology safely.

For more information and support, please contact the Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline at 1-800-770-1650.

  • internet safety

    As you surf the internet on your computer, the places you visit are stored on the computer you use. Bills you pay and purchases you make are tracked. Instant messages and emails can be retrieved. Keep in mind that as you use a computer, it might be monitored. Safe computers can be found at the local library, internet café, shelter, work or computer technology center. Always use safe computers when researching things such as travel plans, housing options, legal issues and safety plans.

  • Email

    Your abusive partner could have access to your email account. To be safe, open an email account your partner does not know about on a safe computer and use that account for safety planning and sensitive communications. It is a good idea to keep your monitored account active with non-critical emails in order to maintain appearances.

  • Cell Phone

    Cell phones can be a beacon, tracking your exact location in real time. Call and text history can also be retrieved by an abusive partner. Additionally, a location tracking device (GPS) can be placed on your car or in your purse. Consider purchasing a pay as you go phone that you keep in a safe place to allow you to make calls.

  • Social Media

    Only post things you want the public to see or know. Once it’s online, it’s no longer under your control. Be protective of your personal information. Your phone numbers and addresses enable people to contact you directly, and things like your birth date, the schools you attended, your employer and photos with landmarks may make it easier for someone to find where you live, hang out or go to school.

    Set boundaries and limits. Tell people not to post personal information, negative comments or check-ins about you on social media. Ask people not to post or tag pictures if you’re not comfortable with it.

    Keep your passwords private – there is no need to share passwords to social media accounts with anyone.

    If you have a friend in an abusive relationship DO NOT post information about them without getting their permission. You could jeopardize their safety.

Do you have a feeling that you are being monitored? Here are some things to remember

  • Did you know that someone can monitor another person’s computer use without the user knowing?
  • Did you know that a “history” cannot be completely erased from a computer?
  • Did you know that cell phone use can be monitored?
  • Did you know that a global positioning system (GPS) can be placed on your car, in your purse or in your cell phone?
  • Did you know that e-mail can be intercepted?

To be certain of your safety, take the following precautions

Change Passwords & Security Questions – It’s easy to use names or dates that are easy for you to remember when setting passwords and security questions.  But the person who has abused you may know those names and dates.  If so, they could access your bank, credit card, and social media accounts.

If you think your phone or computer has spyware, keep using it for simple things that others may already know about you.  When paying bills, making purchases, safety plans, and legal issues, you should use a safer phone or computer.  Ask an advocate about where to find a safer phone or computer.

Set and Check Privacy Settings – If you are friends on a social media site with someone that has harmed you or children, they may have access to your information.

Set, check, and recheck the privacy settings on your social networking pages to be sure your settings are up to date.  Ask an advocate to show you how to do this.

Turn off GPS on All Electronic Devices – GPS provides information on exactly locations where you are at.  GPS is on all cell phones, digital cameras, laptop computers, and other electronic devices.  The person who harmed you can use GPS to track or find you.  For instance, when you post a picture on a social media site, GPS allows the site to show where the picture was taken.

Follow the steps in your user manual to turn off GPS on all electronic devices.  Consider turning off GPS on your children’s devices, too.