Social media can be a great way for people to stay connected and informed, BUT and it's a really BIG BUT...

Do you know everyone on your friends list?
Do you know if they are real people and by that I mean, are they who they say they are?

If you are a business owner, do you know who you are connecting yourself to and what their intentions are?  Yah, I know, sounds like a bad dad commentary, but seriously - DO YOU KNOW WHO you are connected to?

The internet, as I have learned has a very, very dark underbelly. A place where people have multiple identities, claim the hard work of others as their own and scam and hurt people in ways that can take years to repair.

Because I seldom stray off of the topics that interest me when I am surfing the net, I tend to not see that side of things too often.

Recently I have had cause to be investigating some people for an article that I intend to write in the future and a few that I have already written.

While doing that research, I found out just how desperate and deranged some people can be.

People can pretend to be some one they are not and hide behind a key board and say what ever in the HE Double Hockey Sticks they want to say about you and you have very little recourse is most cases.

Internet crimes like impersonation, plagiarism, photo theft, slander, stalking, bullying go unreported too often because even when reported, a lot of these scary things aren't considered crimes when they happen on the internet.  A lot of things we think are crimes - like impersonation - are not criminal unless the person doing the impersonating is getting some financial gain, the same for plagiarism.

Did you know that you could steal whole articles that other people have written and go undetected for years?

Did you know that seasoned journalists don't know that there are plagiarism checker tools or that you can use - and in the search bar there is a little camera, click on that, upload a picture and you can find articles on and variations of those pictures if they have been shared lots?

It's amazing what happens when you do that - the things you learn about the people that you think you know....

Did you know that often times the profile images of Porn Stars are stolen and used by others to pass themselves off as pretty girls or handsome guys?

Did you know that there are people out there who are so good at Photoshop that unless you see the original photo you would NEVER suspect that the photos they produce to you as theirs are phony?

Did you know that all of the tools that people like me use in their day to day work, are used by jerk offs looking to take you for a ride, scam you, or just make themselves feel superior because you were stupid enough to believe them?

Motorcyclists are not the only community that gets a black eye courtesy of the disrespectful or deceitful.

There are some tools that you can use to protect yourself out there.

Before you accept a friend request from anyone, vet them. Find out who is at the table...
Check to see who else they are connected to, what kind of things they post about and if you can't find that information or get a true recommendation from a friend you know and trust via PM, then don't accept their requests.

There are so many scammers and con artists just waiting in the wings for that break, that chance to infiltrate all of your data and that of your friends.

If you think that someone is trying to scam you about who or what they are...
If your spider senses are tingling - pay attention to them. Even people you know personally can change due to life situations like divorces that see wounded people trying to drown themselves in all sorts of ways...people change and not always for the better.

If you are in the dating game, check the profile images ( ) of the guy or chick, cause guess what, they probably look nothing like their profile picture. There are tons of sites out there dedicated to protecting the porn stars from having their photos ripped off, be they female or male.

There are tons of scammer checker sites now days. Use them.

Keep your computer and emails safe with a top-drawer security system like Kaspersky - which is what I use. It's a little more expensive than some programs out there but think of how expensive life will become if someone hacked your computer and stole your identity....

I am not a trained journalist and I tend to trust people far too easily.
I write about our community, my feelings towards it and when I need to I dig hard to find out the truth of a situation, I look for as much info to provide balanced reporting...investigative journalism is not something I have been trained for but, I do the best I can and am continually reading and learning.

I use the tools I have tripped across to protect myself, because no one wants to take someone like me under their wing - so I learn everything the hard way...hence why I am sharing these tips with you.

I don't want you learning the hard way - it hurts - a lot.

People have duped me because I take people at their word, at face value. I am too old school for a world that connects you to so many. I am, however, learning at a rapid rate an art I would never have thought I'd wanted to learn - How not to trust.

And so...
I have gone to great lengths recently to learn how to protect myself out there even better, because the more I am in the "public eye" the more the freaks are coming out of the closet.

In every community there is someone who seems to need to destroy everything that others do or hold dear.   I am not sure why we can't all just be happy for each other, why there are so many broken and dead souls walking around - but there are.

In the riding community:
You have those who use their loud pipes to show off instead of for safety.
You have people who hold events and then don't pay their bills.

In almost every community:
You have people who volunteer and then don't show up.
You have people who take on a job but never really show up.
You have people whose word isn't worth the paper it's written on.

In government and policing:
You have politicians that lie and steal from the Canadian Taxpayer.
You have police officers that ruin the name of the force by their conduct while the good ones have to put up with the brunt of the anger...

Yes, there are nut jobs everywhere you turn and the Internet makes them more accessible than ever.
Just like riding, the best defense is a great offence.

What say you?
I leave you with a few funnies shared with me by friends on Facebook and via emails:

No matter which event you are attending this weekend PLEASE ride like everyone around you is blind and cannot see you.

Have a safe and pleasurable weekend...

Belt Drive Betty
Editor & Rider

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