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The Internet has a lot of great things it can impart to us. One of those is free information. You can research about anything all the time. You can even learn a new skill just by watching online videos. The second one is to meet old and new friends. You can reconnect with almost anyone, from long lost friends and family members. Aside from that, you can also meet new friends. I know this by heart because most of my closest friends right now are people I met online.
Source: BBC UK
But not all people are lucky enough though in meeting new friends online, some ended up getting scammed with huge amounts of money while for others untimely death. Yes, this is true. There are many cases, especially with young women who died because of some men they met online. If you are active on Facebook, I am sure you have seen one or two videos informing everyone about the dangers of chatting complete strangers online. One famous 5-minute film is of that 15-year-old school girl Kayleigh Haywood of Leicestershire, England. This short film went viral on Facebook. Leicestershire Police made this video to warn parents and their children about the dangers of chatting online with strangers. To watch the video, click HERE. Please watch with caution.
Including Kayleigh’s story, below are several real cases that can serve as a warning to us, especially parents like me…
Kayleigh Haywood – England (2015)
On October 32, 2015, Kayleigh was sent a Facebook message from a 27-year-old man she didn’t know. After 15 days of affectionate chatting, she was raped and murdered.
Meliza Maravilla Magracia – Philippines (2016)
Met someone online who offered her a part-time modeling job. She got interested and agreed to meet him on December 6, 2016. After four days, a farmer found the lifeless body of Meliza. For reference video, click HERE. Please watch with caution.
19-Year-Old Female – Philippines (2018)
Cindy, not her real name, was gang-raped after meeting with her chatmate and joined a drinking session with his friends. Reference story, click HERE.
19-Year-Old Female – Philippines (2017)
A 19-year-old woman faced with a predicament when 22-year-old Noel Espiritu extorted money from her. They met online and became friends until they started exchanging nude photos of each other. Noel demanded for money in exchange for not uploading her photos online. Reference story, click HERE.
I can scour the internet for more cases, but I guess this is enough for you to know that the danger is real. It is scary! We have to keep ourselves safe especially young women and children.
Here are some tips that can help protect ourselves and our children from the dangers of online chatting to strangers:
1. Don’t talk to strangers.
As the old adage goes, “Don’t talk to strangers.” We hear this all the time since we were kids and many people think it only applies when the stranger is physically present. But all the more when it is online. We don’t see them physically. You might think that you are talking to a friendly woman, but then, in reality, you are talking to a fraudulent person waiting for the perfect time to scam you or do harm to you.
Source: Getty Images
2. Be cautious when chatting online.
There are times that we can’t help but talk to strangers online, especially when buying and selling are legitimately happening online. Many people are making huge profits just by bring their businesses online. We talk to them when we want to buy or sell items. Facebook now has a marketplace wherein you can now buy or acquire services on almost anything. If you start transacting business, be cautious.
Also be cautious of people who chat with you out of nowhere. Some will start friendly, then, later on, they will start their moves and some will ask you to meet alone.
3. If you are looking for an online date, join legal sites.
There are some people who found friends and true love online, but the best way to do it is to join legal dating sites. A lot of people go online dating using Facebook, they join groups in the hope of finding the one. But sad to say, most of these didn’t end well. Like I mentioned above, somewhere raped, scammed, or faced an early demise. Join legal dating sites has pros. Most legal dating sites make sure that all the members are real people. They ask payment and verify identities of the member. Whereas in free platforms, though you can still find decent ones (I hope so), most are not.
Source: Luci Gutierrez
4. Check their profile first.
Before you beginning chatting with someone, check their profiles first. Legit online sellers usually have their profiles public. They will show their face constantly to gain trust. They have several photos of themselves consistently or with their friends and family. If you think their profile is suspicious, then I guess it is better to be safe than sorry.
5. Have online accountability partners.
It is better for your family and friends to know what you are doing online. Be transparent. If you are buying something, talking to someone, or whatever you do online. It is best that someone knows. If you need to meet someone for a business meeting or just meeting as friends, don’t go alone. Bring the entire gang! Don’t immediately trust someone you haven’t even met before.
There are more ways to keep yourself safe online. Not only from the dangers of fraudulent online chatting but also from cyberbullying, violation of privacy, and other Internet-related crimes. Since there are 67 million Internet users in the Philippines now, and most of them are active in social media, the emergence of cyber-related crimes is evident. Through #makeITsafePH campaign, Globe Telecom, an avid promoter of the digital lifestyle, aims to promote cybersecurity and cyber-wellness among Filipinos. This campaign hopes to help educate consumers about online threats and inform the public of what can be done to avoid becoming a victim.
The Internet is still a happy place. Mind you, I am happy to say it is my source of income. It has benefited a lot of people worldwide, but still, being cautious online is not a bad thing to do. If this blog post helped you, please share this with your family and friends. Let us join the campaign to make every Filipino, especially our youth, safe online! Let’s #makeITsafePH!