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What Makes the Internet Dangerous?

| May 2, 2014 | 70 Comments
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To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDEdspace and end it with #DoNowInternet

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.


Do Now

What is it that makes the internet potentially dangerous? It may have to do with how you interact with people—do you talk to people you meet online in the same way you would talk to someone you met offline? How are the risks teenagers face online different or similar to the risks they face in a place like the school hallway or the mall?

Introduction

Online social networks like Instagram, Snapchat, and messaging apps act as places for people to share images and conversations. According to the Pew Research Internet Project, 95% of teenagers are online.

Just like in school or the mall, online spaces like Facebook or Twitter can be places of great conversations with friends; however, they can also be a place of unwanted comments or requests, and relationships that aren’t clearly defined.

One type of unwanted interaction can be requests to engage in sexual conversation or even sexual activity—whether it’s a boyfriend or girlfriend, a classmate from school, or a person you met online.

Recent cases of exploitation have involved people using social media sites like Facebook or apps such as Whisper to attract others into relationships that may eventually lead to commercial sexual exploitation. Here’s an example from this month:

Tevon Harris, a 22 year old in Houston, TX, plead guilty to two charges of child sex trafficking. He would meet young girls online, and gain their trust by talking to them about their goals and dreams. He would tell them that he was going to help them become models, and ask to meet up in person. When he picked them up, he took them to hotel rooms, forced them to take drugs, raped them, and took away their phones—cutting off communication with the outside world. He took their photos and posted them online as advertisements for prostitution. Then, he forced them to meet with the people who would buy them online, and kept all of the money that they received.

Stories like this show how online interactions can lead to serious danger. There are millions of others, however, who use the Internet without running into trouble. Right now, for example, you’re about to comment on this post and respond to other students on Twitter.

What are some “red flags” that might cause you to think a conversation or relationship could be moving in an unsafe or harmful direction?

Resource

click on the player

NPR Here & Now segment FBI Official: Internet A Key Recruiting Tool For Sex Traffickers
Ron Hosko, the assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, tells NPR that the Internet has become a key tool for recruitment of minors for sex traffickers. “…we saw a group who were recruiting across Facebook, with simple compliments to young girls, saying ‘you’re pretty’ [and] ‘would you like to make some money?'” he says. Click on the player above and you will be redirected to the audio on NPR’s page.


To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowInternet

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.

We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets. You can visit our video tutorials that showcase how to use several web-based production tools. Of course, do as you can… and any contribution is most welcomed.


More Resources

Love146 resource Online Safety (It’s not lame if it actually protects you)
Relationships and friendships are complicated—especially when you’re talking to someone online—and it can be hard to know if someone has your best interest in mind. While this definitely doesn’t mean you need to stop going online, here are some things to consider

Pew Research Center study How Teens Share Information on Social Media
How many teens post a photo of themselves on their Facebook profile? How many post their relationship status? Click through this interactive infographic about how teens share information on social media (based on a survey of 802 teenagers).

FBI article Houston Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking of Children
This is the FBI’s report on the case of Tevon Harris, a man in Houston, TX, who plead guilty to trafficking the minors he met on social networking sites.


This post was written by Elaine Kim from LOVE146, an international human rights organization working to end child trafficking and exploitation through survivor care, prevention education, professional training and empowering movement. Love146 believes in helping grow the movement of abolition while providing effective, thoughtful solutions. We believe in the power of Love and its ability to affect sustainable change.

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Category: Do Now, Do Now: Government and Civics

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About the Author ()

Matthew Williams is a filmmaker and media educator who has recently transplanted to Oakland from Los Angeles. He believes that you are what you eat and feels everyone should have a multitude of dietary options for self-realization. Matthew is the Educational Technologist at KQED.
  • ClaireB_period2_BoydBence

    Some factures that make
    the Internet potential dangerous is that if you give away your personal
    information online someone can find your location in 6 clicks. My parents do
    not let me be apart of social networks because you never know who is looking at
    your posts and might search for your current location. I feel that people do
    not talk to people in person the same way that they talk to people online. Many
    people think that they might be unanimous but relay there is always a trace
    back to your computer. In the 21st century technology is taking over
    our world, but teens need to know what could happen if the wrong thing gets
    out. For more information this website gave me a lot of information about teens
    safety on the Internet http://www.atg.wa.gov/internetsafety/teens.aspx#.U2gK13lJXvE.
    Also look at this Wedio that I created to show a tip to keep kids safe online https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jm3frlWlgLg
    .

  • nathanl_period4_boydandbence

    How many of you Facebook friends or Skype contacts do you know in real life? How many of them use their real face as their profile picture? On the internet nobody knows who you are, what you look like or what you want from them. Amenity is one of the internet’s greatest features and dangers. While it lets people who are shy post original work without being seen or humiliated of it isn’t high quality, it also allows for people to hide their intents from the people that they converse with. Take Facebook for example. It is a great place for people to talk and share image and experiences, in some cases it has been and will be used for things like pedophelia and human trafficking. Amenity on the internet is a double edged sword, while a haven for some it is a hunting ground for others. What we need to focus on is teaching our children how to be safe on the internet and avoid people like Tevon Harris and use the internet for its original purpose.

    • Tateeana Ibarra

      @KQEDedspace
      I agree. Just like you said I think as long as people didn’t post personal information and used internet the way its supposed to be used then it would be more safe for everybody.
      #DoNowInternet
      #davisss

    • chance

      The facts that mostly you know your friends on Facebook, Skype, and etc I don’t think that a problem.
      http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/4-dangers-internet #davisss

    • Dustin Remiker

      I think that people would be more safe on the internet if they did not add someone that they don’t know or there friends or family don’t know on sites like Facebook and Skype

      • jasmine

        Yes, I agree because that’s kind of creepy.

  • Nicholas_M_Period1_BoydBence

    I believe the thing that makes the internet dangerous is that anyone can be anonymous. You have no real idea who you are talking to. They could just live down the street or across the country you never truly know, but it could be fairly easy to someone who knows what they are doing to find out who you are and where you live. This is the real danger of the internet. People can target you online then find you. Then can find your facebook and have access to you and your personal life. There is tons of stories of stalkers and pedophiles on facebook. Like this story of a reporter who posed as a 14 year old girl and was harassed and targeted by these people in only a short amount of time (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1256793/I-posed-girl-14-online-What-followed-sicken-you.html). Another story is the story of a 26 year old who is currently in prison who abused over 30 boys and girls on social media and even one girl states her first person account with him in this article http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1256793/I-posed-girl-14-online-What-followed-sicken-you.html. This is why knowing how to protect yourself on social media is imperative. There are privacy settings within all social medias that doesn’t let people who have not “friended” to see any of your information and photos. I believe everyone should turn these on and parents should make sure their kids have these on. This will prevent a lot of these cases. Here are some more internet safety tips https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25edNdMAKtU.

    • Tateeana Ibarra

      @KQEDedspace
      I agree with you. I think people should use the internet better and safer because the people that are using the internet irresponsible they just ruin it for the people that are using it responsible because then they feel like they cant post anything, or anything like that because of the people that are irresponsible.
      #DoNowInternet
      #davisss

      • Rosarianna

        i agree with you one hundred percent.

    • Zack Hannah

      @KQEDedspace I agree, because people can be anyone behind a computer screen, and nobody will know. And yes, there are people that make fake accounts to harass other people, which is stupid. #DoNowInternet #davisss

  • David_N_2

    The internet itself is of no harm. It is the people and their actions that make something harmless into something potentially dangerous. Just like the internet, guns, knifes, and any object can be used for either good or bad. A reason why the internet is dangerous in this time period is because people, as the recording gives an example: “…websites like BackPage.com, which is an online marketplace similar to Craigslist, are used to essentially buy and sell children.”, use it to do horrible deeds. Not only that but people send vulgar messages to other people. The internet is so misused that people forget that a human is on the other side of the monitor. The person you are insulting is a human with feelings. When I use the internet, I actually send messages that’s nicer than what I would say in real life. The person on the other side could be going through something horrible such as bullying, and when they encounter the same bullying online, then it won’t be any different! We all have to grab each others hands and understand that we are all humans that goes through problems, and we need to support each other…not push each other down.

    • BarrettC-3periodboydbence

      David I agree with everything you say. Internet is harmless by itself, but it all depends on what the person using it does with it. Plus I also agree with you saying that bullying is bullying there is no difference between them if it was online or social. Plus if you look at this link it will show you various of reasons why these teens committed suicide because of social media websites.

      http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanha

    • Alexia Johnson

      David I also agree with you . The internet is of no harm, its people that make the internet dangerous. For example, Facebook.com is supposed to be a site for people to be able to talk to friends and family but like any other social media its used for numerous other things. http://netsecurity.about.com/od/securityadvisorie1/a/The-Dangers-Of-Facebook-Oversharing.htm

    • Zack Hannah

      I agree in a way, but, just think of all of the things on the internet the need your information. And all of the hackers out there that can get into it. So yes, you need to watch what you post or put on the internet. #davisss #DoNowInternet

    • swannigan Christian

      I think that really only applies to the people that just add anyone no matter who they are. like I only Skype my family and two of my friends from school

    • Dustin Remiker

      I agree that the internet is harmless and it is the people that make it dangerous, but every social media site you go on has the same chance of having people that miss it just for there own sick game like in the story how Tevon Harris was child trafficking. You should not add anyone on to your friends list unless you know them personally or they are family.

    • Anthony

      I completely agree with you. I mean without the internet this would not exist at all

  • BarrettC-3periodboydbence

    I don’t think the internet is dangerous at all. I believe that the people that use the internet ar the ones that make it dangerous. One example is Facebook or twitter. Well basically any social media website can harm people. Social media websites can cause a lot of harm even when you don’t know it. For example cyber-bullying. This has caused many teens to commit suicide. On this website this shows the deaths of 9 teens and how cyber-bullying caused them to commit suicide. http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/a-ninth-teenager-since-last-september-has-committed-suicide
    Now some people say that teens are at risk online as much as them in high school hallways. Well I say that it is. Bullying is bullying, there is no difference. The only difference is that one is online and one is in person.

  • Riley_R_1BoydBence

    I don’t think the internet is dangerous unless you give away personal information. If you give away personal information, anyone can see it and access it. On http://www.netsmartz.org/RealLifeStories/6DegreesOfInformation, it shows you how much information one person found out about a few teens in just six clicks.
    The internet is also dangerous if you instant message someone, or if someone instant messages you. If someone instant messages you and tells you that they will always protect you and you don’t know this person, don’t trust them. On http://www.netsmartz.org/RealLifeStories/JuliesJourney, someone instant messages a girl named Julie. Julie runs away from home to stay with him, and they both get sent to jail.

  • Zack Hannah

    @KQEDEdspace It can be dangerous sometimes because there are cyber bullies, and, people can find out ways to hack your information like your, credit card number, your address, they can steal your accounts like, twitter and facebook, and people can lie to you about anything over a computer screen, but not face to face. #DoNowInternet #davisss

  • william bright

    @KQEDEdspace the internet can be very dangerous if you go in the wrong places but that’s partially a matter of what you choose to do on the internet or where you choose to go on the internet, Facebook and other sites where almost anyone can be friends with one another could be a dangerous place if you are not careful with what you do, if you only use the internet for searching for things, E-mail, or other things like that then its not as dangerous, so it all depends on what you do on the internet. #DoNowInternet, #davisss

  • corrina cowden

    @KQEDedspace I believe that the internet is a dangerous place. So many people give away their personal information and do not see what could happen or even who can get their information.#DoNowinternet #davisss

  • 18cloc

    I think the internet is dangerous. It’s so much easier to post something mean or meet someone you don’t know online because you don’t have to say it to their face. It takes courage and guts to say something to a persons face when you have social medal that makes it so much easier to ask someone if they wanna “make” money.
    How many of your social media friends do you know in real life? I’m sure we all have a couple friends online that we haven’t met in person, those people could be dangerouse.

  • Alexia Johnson

    I believe that the internet can be very dangerous due to the fact that you don’t have to see someone face to face to talk to them. Also , that anyone can get on the internet for anything.

    • swannigan Christian

      yes I completely agree

  • swannigan Christian

    I feel that the internet is dangerous because when you use it irresponsible

  • Tateeana Ibarra

    @KQEDedspace
    I think the internet is dangerous because people can post things on social media and act like somebody when really they aren’t that person they are acting like. Also when you put all your information on a social media then everybody would be able to see it, and there is no way you can take it back. Once you put something on the internet it stays there.
    #DoNowInternet
    #davisss

  • chance

    I think the internet is dangerous and you don’t know who is talking to you and you need to watch what you put out there. http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/4-dangers-internet #davisss

    • BarrettC-3periodboydbence

      Chance I agree partly with you. Yes I think the internet is dangerous but only because it’s because of the people that use it. The internet is not dangerous by itself. So the people do really do need to watch out what they post out there.

  • 18jcol

    I think the most dangerous part of the internet is that you don’t really know some of the people that your talking too. They could be bad people and try and hurt you or steal from you.

  • 18tmon

    I don’t think the internet is dangerous. It can be helpful and educational. It’s the people that make it dangerous. Sometimes it can also be the parents fault. They need to make sure that their kids are safe and know how to be safe on the internet.

  • 18vmon

    People always want attention. Some young people can’t tell the difference between good and bad attention.

  • Tosterhout_period2_boyd_bence

    The internet isn’t, dangerous it all depends on what the person using it for if you engage in chat with unknown people and plan to meet up that when the internet becomes dangerous not to mention cyber bullying occurs 

About half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it
    regularly the side affect of cyber bullying is causes 

Use alcohol,drugs

, Skip
    school,
 

Be unwilling to attend school, 

Receive
    poor grades,

 Have lower self-esteem

, and more health problems so the internet
    can be use for talking to friends and relatives and family in but the internet
    can and is used for bad.

  • ChristianH_2boydbence

    We all use the internet, for work, socializing, or having fun. But its not simply limited to all the great parts. There are dark corners and shadows within those confines and people use it to their advantage. there are reasons like hacks or viruses that make the internet dangerous but an extremely large factor within this is how anyone you meet can be anonymous. You can be anything you want to on the internet as long as your careful. A 30 year old man can pretend to be someone half his age. There is simply no way to know, and that anonymous person can lead to events like the ones told in this KQED resource,”We saw a group who were recruiting across Facebook, you know, with simple complements to young girls telling them they were pretty – would
    you like to make some money? And the recruitment started just that
    innocuously but was effective.” These people who are anonymous and hidden also use sites like ,”websites like BackPage.com, which is an online marketplace
    similar to Craigslist, are used to essentially buy and sell children.” The anonymous factor can lead to much more than human trafficking but its probably one of the largest factors that lead to tragedies like this.

    http://www.myfloridalegal.com/legalcontrols.nsf/images/human_trafficking_posters.jpg

  • Tclark-2boydbence

    Social media presents many dangers as well as many benefits. People can connect, share and learn more than ever before. But things like catfishing and cyberbullying come along with this. We need to be careful with what we do online so that the internet can be a positive expirience for everyone.

    http://www.wideo.co/view/3270381399302746849-online-safety?from=cp

    • Aaron

      I agree. There are many benefits and downfalls to being very connected to social media. Between connecting with people and making long distance relationships with family or not knowing who you are really talking to.

  • Pinya Colada

    The internet is good and bad at the same time. On one hand, it can be educational. You can learn a lot from the Internet and get opinions and facts from many other people. On the other hand, it can be dangerous. People can try and get information from you, or pretend to be you. There are so many other things that can to wrong, but at the same time, there are so many things that are good that come out of the Internet.

    • MikeM_3boydbence

      I agree with this 100%. The internet can be used for good and bad things. I think its just the people that make the internet very bad since they can make such bad websites and fake accounts on social media.

    • BarrettC-3periodboydbence

      yes I totally agree there are so many good outcome coming out of the internet, yet there are just so may bad outcomes that come out of it as well. One being that cyber-bullying cause many teens to break down and possibly commit suicide.

  • KnowEl

    The internet isn’t harmful; it’s a tool to be used. It’s the people that use it and the way that they use it that make it dangerous. Like a butcher knife. It’s not dangerous when used correctly, but if I decide to chop someone up with that’s when it becomes dangerous.

    • MikeM_3boydbence

      Yes i agree 100%. It is not that the internet is bad its just the way people use it and what they do makes it bad.

    • Kelcey

      I also agree with you there isnt anything wrong with the internet , people just need to know how to use it .

  • MikeM_3boydbence

    The internet can be very dangerous for many things. People can be making fake accounts on social media trying to be someone they really aren’t. Now a days its so easy to have a fake account. Also on Craig lists people can lie to you. They can meet up with you and kill you and just take all the money that you had on you. What I’m trying to say that internet its self is not dangerous, it’s the people that use it to do bad things to people.

  • CarlosR_3BoydBence

    The internet is full of unsafe people, computer harming websites, and more. Here’s a video I made about online safety! http://www.wideo.co/view/3332391399622351949-product-or-service-template-1-copy?from=cp

    • Cuco Chavez

      The internet isn’t full of unsafe people, or harmless websites. If you’re looking for free movies or music then your computer will get infected, and if you’re on social media asking for trouble then yah; you’ll attract bad people.

    • Joe

      I find this very true were many of us avoid safety and use the internet carelessly!!!

  • CadenM_Per1_BoydBence

    The internet can be a very scary place filled with strange things and people. You can have your personal information taken or you could meet a fake person who acts differently then they actually are in real life. People can lie and people can pull off scams. People can get into bad situations. The internet is filled with opportunities of good and of bad. Sometimes when you go on the internet you have to pay attention to what you are doing before you do it. In 2013 a 19 year old was sent to jail because he left a sarcastic comment about threatening a kindergarden. even the smallest things you may not notice could and or can change your life in many different major ways.

    The internet can be scary but it is your responsibility to pay attention to where you are and what you are about to do or doing.

  • ChristenW_Per4_BoydBence

    Online safety is vital in a growing world of technology. Since this is the first time in history that people can interact with someone who pretends to be someone else, many people have not yet learned the ins and outs of social networking. A problem that was not mentioned above, however, is cyber-bullying. Cyber-bulling my not seem as extreme as rape, but the number of teens who have been bullied online is uncomfortably high. According to ncpc.org, forty-three percent of teens were victims of cyber-bullying in the past year. According to another site, http://www.dosomething.org, bullying victims are 2-9 times more likely to commit suicide than non-victims. This goes to show that teens can also be a danger to themselves and each other.

  • Rosa Chea

    The internet is dangerous because people don’t know who their messing with, the stranger could be a person that is just looking for friends or a person that could be a threat or harm to your emotions or in real life. Sometimes I do talk to random people on the internet when I’m bored and don’t have anything to do. But I never add a person on personal information website such as Facebook because I don’t want a small fun activity to be a harm or danger to me. On the Internet, people think about what they want to say and then type it without thinking about opposite sides reaction. The risk that a teenager could face in public is dangerous such as meeting people that you don’t know, but on the internet when you talk to a random person, you can’t see his/her face but in public you know
    and can see the person before talking and getting to know them.

  • Dustin Remiker

    The internet is not bad it is a wonderful place if you use it correctly but there are people that use it because it is a crime so now days you should not put someone on your friends list unless you now them personally or they are family but you can still add people just be careful of the people you add.

  • Anthony

    The internet is amazing and should not be feared the people who get catfished are in general not all there because there are always obvious signs

  • Anfernee

    it could be dangerous for stupid people. like stupid little kids who talked to other people they don’t know. they could get rape or something. they should have an age limit to join social media. stay in school kids :3

  • Aaron

    Not everyone truly knows what they’re doing until something tragic happens. People don’t realize how dangerous social media is. Many don’t even know who they are really socializing with until a bad incident occurs or until something absolutely embarrassing happens.

  • T BOOGY

    i feel that some people should not use the internet if they are not using it correctly. it go’s both ways if you ask me

  • Anthony

    There is nothing specifically that makes the internet dangerous occasionally you will hear about things like this human trafficking issue but if anything i would blame it on people not being educated and personally the only people I interact with online are friends that I have met in real or have talked to on Skype and people who don’t verify that the person is who they say they are are putting them self s in a situation to have things like this happen to them. Teenagers face many more problems in public places because the internet can only psychologically harm you while in public places you can also be physically harmed its not like someone can mug or beat you up through the internet.

  • jasmine

    The internet is fine, people just don’t know how to use it sometimes.

  • Kelcey

    I believe , that the internet is potentially dangerous because there are people around the world who you dont know , that can be watching you and take your pictures and act like they are you. You could act the same way you would in person but you would never know if that person is really who they say they are or if they are even the same age they are . Thats when you need to come to a point and say “oh can we skype or facetime” and if they dont want to or have an excuse there not who they say they are then you need to stop talking to that person period .

  • CGB

    The internet was a harmless thing when it was brought up it was a tool for buisinessmen, teachers, and doctors however its no longer a safe place due to cyber-terrorism, bullying and many types of completely anonymous threats on the last suspected branch of social media where teens rave and rant online at eachother not knowing who the other person is on the other side this makes it a hot spot for the unholiest of all criminals. #smith
    C.G.B

  • Cuco Chavez

    The internet is potentially dangerous based on what you as a person are looking at or for. The majority of the internet content is either pornography or social media, and with these two choices, you as a person might think why compare these two. Well the fast is, is that social media is just as bad as the other.

  • Joe

    I believe that the internet is a good and bad tool and is used for 1 major reason now social media. Many of us have one or multiple social media accounts. In my eyes many use social media to keep in touch with other across the world. On the other hand many us abuse it showcasing our lives for everyone to see and sometimes used against many.

    • Anfernee

      no.

    • Jocelynn C.

      I agree that social media has started to dictate our life to the point we can no longer function without them.

  • Javier Alvarez

    Little kids should not have social media accounts. Only adults and teens should have social media accounts. We should because we know better and are more responsible then little kids. The internet can be very dangerous due to sex preditors and hackers. BE SMART

  • Mr. Mackey

    Cocaines a hell of a drug

  • Jocelynn C.

    Animosity can be an advantage with the fact no one can judge you, but can be used against you. A ten year old could be ‘chatting’ with a fifty-something-year old and never know. Be aware, never take anything at face value.