Is This Abuse?

There are many situations where it’s not only fun but practical to tag people or check-in with Gowalla, foursquare, Facebook, Instagram etc. As useful as this technology is, did you ever stop to wonder: is it safe?

For someone in or getting out of an abusive relationship, the answer is often no. It can be dangerous if your abusive partner only has to log-in to foursquare or Facebook to see where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re with.

So try to be mindful of how to use check-ins — whether you’re in a healthy relationship or not. If you or a friend are in an unhealthy relationship, consider the following before checking in:

Always Ask

Always ask everyone if it’s alright to check them in, even if you are sure it was ok a week ago. If anyone in your group says no, consider playing is safe and not checking in at all. You don’t want an abusive partner figuring out who else is there based on the group you posted.

Update Your Privacy Settings

Facebook, foursquare and Gowalla all let you control who sees your check-ins, but they default to making your account public. Consider adjusting your settings so only your friends, not the general public, can see your check-ins. Remember, though, that abusive partners may find a way around your settings.

Know Your Networks

Just because you’re not friends with the abusive person doesn’t mean you’re not friends with their friends. If you think sensitive information could be accessed by your contacts a few friends away, just side with caution and don’t post.

Pay Attention to Statuses and Tweets Too

Be aware that tagging someone in a status or tweet could create problems for them too, especially if you give away their location. Learn more about social networking safety.

Wait Until After the Event

If you’re posting about a one-time event that you really want to celebrate online, give it a day or two until you mention it. That way, the abusive person is less likely to use the information against you and your friends.

If you want to talk about cautious check-ins or other ways to support a friend in an abusive relationship, chat with a peer advocate.

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