Friday, 7 September 2018

Human Trafficking & Social Media Safety

Over the past few weeks, a series of child abductions, kidnapping attempts, and missing children cases have dominated the South African media. Human trafficking has suddenly become a hot topic of conversation, and a very real concern.
Several fake WhatsApp messages, voice notes, hoax calls to SAPS, and numerous social media posts are causing mass hysteria.
A recent voice note circulating on social media, claims that SAPS have confirmed that human traffickers are scouting WhatsApp profile pictures and social media networks, to identify and track children, who are then sold via a bidding process. I have noticed several panic-stricken parents, rushing to remove pictures of their children off all social media platforms.
While some of these messages might be fake, human trafficking is indeed very real and we can never be too careful. I therefore strongly encourage parents to take these precautionary steps on all their social media platforms:
1. Ensure that all of your contacts and friends, on social media platforms, are personally known to you.
2. Utilise the highest possible privacy settings, so that the content you share is only visible to people on your friends list.
3. Disable GPS services, so that where and when your photographs were taken, cannot be tracked (unless there is a specific reason for a geo location service to be enabled).
4. Limit what your share, and never share sensitive, private information that could enable an individual to ascertain exactly where you live, or where your kiddies go to school.
5. Qualify what you share - try verify that the content is true before you pass along. Fake news causes unnecessary panic, and is a waste of valuable crime fighting resources.
Remember you should always act the same online as you would in the real-world, so be sure to take similar precautions online that you would in real-life.

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