- In spite of our best efforts, the chat population may contain any number of trolls, thieves, bullies,
scammers, and so on. It is up to you to protect yourself by using best practices when chatting online
in order to protect your own safety, identity, and the integrity of your personal information and
- Never give your real name, exact location, workplace, or any other identifiable personal information
that could be used to track you, fake your identity, or gain access to any of your accounts elsewhere.
- Be cautious about clicking on links to outside websites. These may be a means of infecting your computer
or smartphone with malware, a way of tracking you or gaining access to your personal information, or at
the very least may be just part of a revenue-generating scheme.
- Don't automatically trust that people are who they say they are. Chatters may pretend to be someone they
are not -- especially particularly attractive people -- in order to lower your defenses. Services such
as Google Images or TinEye can help you to identify people who may be trying to scam or catfish you.
- Never engage in any kind of transaction with another user of the service, whether through online banking,
payment intermediaries such as PayPal, Amazon, Cash App, Venmo, and so on. At best, you'll be paying for
content you could get anywhere else for free. At worst, you could be putting the security of your personal
information and accounts at risk.
- Do not arrange to meet other chatters without first thoroughly vetting them. Make sure that information
they may have shared with others is consistent with what they have shared with you. Even if everything
seems to check out, even then, remain hesitant about meeting people from the Internet. Meet in public,
have an escape plan, and maintain access to transportation.