A Note on Language
In this toolkit, we will sometimes use the word woman/women and feminine pronouns for simplicity and to recognize the significant impact technology-facilitated violence has on women and girls. We recognize that TFGBV also impacts trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit people. We hope that all people impacted by TFGBV will find these documents useful.
Some people may not care that the things they share about themselves can be viewed by anyone, but other people may be more concerned. Here are some questions to consider when posting content online.
Who Will See This Information?
Sometimes we don’t realize how far and wide our information is shared, especially when we think we’re just posting updates about ourselves to our friends. With the Internet and search engines, such as Google Search, everything online is indexed and searchable. Even sites where you think only members or followers can see the content could be public or seen by others who aren’t members.
Think carefully about what you share online, and whether you are comfortable with it being seen by a wider audience. Some social networks or sites have privacy settings that allow you to choose or block who can see the information you share.
What Are You Sharing?
The kind of information you share can reveal a lot or very little about you. Sometimes we share personal information about ourselves without even realizing it. Landmarks in a picture or even blogging about the great restaurant you had dinner at the night before could indicate where you are. Decide if what you are sharing is okay for others to know.
Be careful when sharing information about your friends and family because you may reveal something that they don’t wish others to know. If you are sharing things about them, do you have their permission?
Do you know what the owners of the website do with the information you give them? Even if the information you share isn’t posted online, it may be shared with advertisers or third parties. Many sites have privacy policies that spell out what they do with the information you give them.
Is the Information You Share Illegal or Against the Content Policies of the Site?
Many sites don’t allow violent or discriminatory content and, if you do post negative content, they could remove your content or close your account. If you are sharing information about others, be careful about not sharing copyrighted materials, false information, or harassing content because that could open you up to civil or criminal legal action.
How Much Control Do You Have Over the Information that You Share?
Some people believe that because it’s content you posted, you own it and can control it. But you really don’t have much control once it’s out there. Others can share it, talk about it, and even change it. If you originally posted it on your personal website, blog, or social media page, you could take down the original post. However, it will likely be difficult for you to have it removed once it’s on someone else’s website or if someone else has posted a screenshot of your content.
What Can I Do to Increase My Privacy?
- Be thoughtful about what you share online.
- Be careful about what you post about other people.
- When creating online accounts, read the instructions carefully. Often this is when you can opt-out of the site owners collecting and sharing your information.
- Browse the web more safely by running anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer.
- For more tips, check out our Online Privacy and Safety Tips.
Technology-Facilitated Gender-Based Violence (TFGBV) is part of a continuum of violence that can be both online and in-person. If you or someone you know is experiencing TFGBV, you are not alone. You can use sheltersafe.ca to find a shelter/transition house near you to discuss options and create a safety plan. You don’t need to stay in a shelter to access free, confidential services and support.
Adapted for Canada with permission from NNEDV’s Safety Net project, based on their resource Considerations for Posting Online Content.