There are a lot of . . . weird people online. Often times, I would meet them in online games -mostly guys who need to go out into the sun more. Of course, not all are like this. However, I have had my fair share of being stalked online and don’t want anyone to go through the same thing. It was scary and made me lie awake at night wondering when they will do something to me. Here are a few tips I have learned along the way while playing online games on how to keep yourself safe online and in real life.
1. Do not give out your name. It’s fine to give out your first name, as long as it isn’t something too exotic, where they can use it to find you through Google. Never, NEVER, give out your last name along with your first name.
2. Do not state the exact location of where you live. This is obviously a no-brainer, but even giving out the state you live in can be dangerous. An experienced stalker can use this information along with your first and last name to look you up easily online. There are many sites that collect information through Facebook and openly advertise them. Once, someone got my first and last name, as well as my location, and was able to find my Facebook, where I worked, what my parents’ names were, etc. I had to contact that website personally to have my information removed.
3. Do not use the same username you use for forums, Skype, or your email address as your username in online games. If someone is obsessed with you, he or she will probably type your username into Google and can easily find all your forum posts on other websites, which may or may not contain sensitive information about you.
4. When signing up for a community website for a clan or such, do not use your real email address. I suggest making an alternate email address just for games. Admins of community websites can easily look up your email address when you register and use it to find your Facebook or other things online.
5. Do not give out your phone number. Another obvious one, but yes, people do do it. I once gave it to a friend who I thought I could trust. BIG MISTAKE. He turned out to be obsessed with me and texted my phone non-stop. And even traced my number to find where I lived . . . I had known this guy for almost THREE YEARS, and he turned out to be scary in the end when I tried to end our online friendship. I almost had to call the police. I was such an idiot.
6. If you do not want unwanted attention, don’t post your picture on gaming community forums. These forums are full of guys, and you know how guys are. They will make lewd comments of you, have your photo saved and passed around other clans, etc. Unless you like that type of attention, I suggest you post a picture of an object or animal. I’m not asking you to post a fake picture of someone else though.
7. Be wary when going on Teamspeak (TS) or Ventrilo. Admins of the channel can easily look up your IP and trace your location, or worse DDOS (Denial of Service Attack) you. This is when they can disconnect your internet with the use of your IP address. There are websites that will do it for a fee. It is quite popular to do in some of the online games I play to turn a competition around, but it is also illegal. Therefore, I suggest you join a voice-chat room with only people you trust.
8. Tell him or her you have a boyfriend or girlfriend if they are becoming a little too creepy. Even when I don’t have one, this is the excuse I use when someone tries to hit on me online. I try to bring it up casually in the conversation, like, “Oh, yeah, sorry, can’t do that quest with you tomorrow; going out with my boyfriend!” Guys are less likely to bother you after that. Though tons of people flirt online freely, I wouldn’t suggest doing it. Some people get really attached and may take it the wrong way. And once they realize you weren’t serious, you may receive a terrible backlash. I don’t flirt online, but I’m really nice to everyone I meet; so certain guys may take it as I like them more than friends. This is when I flip out my I-have-a-boyfriend excuse.
Please, please, be careful, everyone. I used to co-lead an all-girls clan, and the amount of stalking and obsessive behavior from online guys is phenomenal. I’m sure there are creepy girls out there too, but it’s not as common as guys. Constantly, I would have a member complain about how some guy is scaring her. One girl had a guy who got her IP and wouldn’t stop DDOS’ing her unless she stripped for him on cam. Another would be a guy who threatened to post IRL pictures of one of my members on a porn site unless she talked to him everyday on TS. He got her pictures because she used it as her avatar on a gaming community website. I personally had three scary stalkers. One would spread horrible rumors about me online because I refused to e-date him, using my first and last name, and almost cost me my job IRL. I can go on and on with more examples.
So, please, everyone, take caution when giving out information about yourselves online. =\ Due to the amount of stalking I have had to endure, I had to abandon all my old emails, change my name on FB, and relocate IRL. Even until now, I am still scared of this one stalker that threatened he would find me one day and make me pay for deleting him off my friends’ list in this one game. =\ I haven’t seen him in over a year now, but I am still afraid.