Saturday, November 20, 2010

FACEBOOK: A FORUM THAT REQUIRES CAUTION

Today's post is an exclusive to Two Sisters From The Right. We doubt that many of our readers know that the Round Rock Independent School District, in Williamson County, Texas was recently subjected to two bomb threats.


The perpetrator of the phony bomb threats has now been traced to, of all places, Saudi Arabia. Because this article deals with privacy issues we will not disclose the name of the school that issued the memo which is the text of today's post.

We are Facebook users ourselves. In fact, Two Sisters From The Right was being written on Facebook until last week, but the format was not satisfactory.

The advice given to parents, guardians and teachers, regarding the information that is displayed on Facebook is extremely important. It might sound intrusive to those of us who have adult children, but we live in treacherous times when the young are used and abused by unscrupulous people.

In recent months we've "thinned our herd" of Facebook friends.  We only allow those whom we know and we care about.  Our privacy settings are as strict as the froum allows.  We are not naive.  We know that some hacker can break through the barriers and still access our pages.  Therefore, the less information provided, the safer we will all be. 

We will post links at the end of this memo where more information about the assault on the Round Rock ISD can be found.  The memo has been edited to conceal the identity of the ISD which issued it.



Dear Parents and Guardians,

As many of you know, a neighboring school district had a situation earlier this week which required the evacuation of two of their campuses due to a bomb threat. We are thankful that the investigation has concluded that the suspect does not live in the Austin area and that there is no threat to our neighbors or to our ISD.

The neighboring district has shared alarming information with our district from the Williamson County Sheriff's Office which I feel benefits all ISD parents and students. The suspect in Tuesday’s threat was found in Saudi Arabia.

The person had become Facebook "friends" with several students from the area district and from there had access to all of their Facebook "friends." Another disturbing component is the fact that the students had personal information on their Facebook accounts. Students' e-mail addresses, phone numbers and personal pictures were available for the suspect. The suspect was able to threaten students via Facebook and by calling their cell phones.

Again, we are very thankful that this threat was not substantiated. But even the potential threat to the health and safety of our students can serve as a teachable moment for all of us by enforcing the importance of practicing proper Internet safety.

Parents, we ask that you take action and support  our ISD in keeping your children safe. Our students must understand how dangerous lax safety practices can be on the Internet. Our ISD needs help from our parents to be vigilant in monitoring their child's social networking accounts and general Internet use while at home.

For their safety, students should not place any personal information on the Internet and they should not accept "friends" online who they do not know. At school we teach our students Internet safety and we have systems in place that block social networking sites such as Facebook on all school computers.
 
Here are additional tips that can help keep your child safe:


* Never give out any personal information to anyone on the Internet (including name, address, phone, age, friend's names, school location, etc.)


* Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with anyone you have met on the Internet.

* Parents should search and monitor their child's social networking accounts. Make sure your child's online "friends" are people they actually know.* Always maintain access to your child's online account and randomly check his/her e-mail. Be upfront with them about your access and the reasons why.


* Make sure you understand how your children are using the computer, what Web sites they are visiting, and who they are communicating with online.


* Never upload (post) pictures of yourself, or your friends/family, on the Internet or send to anyone you do not know personally.


* Periodically check your child's cell phone use and text messages to see who your child is communicating with.


* For additional safety tips visit  http://www.onguardonline.gov/ 


Please use this teachable moment as an opportunity to speak with your child about Internet safety. Thank you for your support of our ISD.

The links below will give you further information on this story.  It happened in the Austin area, but it can happen anywhere in the United States. 
 
RRISD bomb threat tracked to Saudi Arabia
http://impactnews.com/round-rock-pflugerville/254-recent-news/10690-rrisd-bomb-threat-tracked-to-saudi-arabia

Round Rock ISD responds to bogus bomb threat, offers important online advice
http://weareaustin.com/fulltext?nxd_id=104027


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