Betty teaches you the importance of keeping your OFFLINE identity separate from your ONLINE identity


Cyber Defender & Clubhouse Supervisor

Betty learned the hard way about sharing too much information online when rumors she had spread through her online blog upset some of her friends. Since then she has made it her goal to educate everyone about what information is inappropriate or unsafe to share online to prevent others from getting hurt.

As a Cyber Defender, Betty focuses on the most important information you should never share online, your offline identity.

Favorite Quote:

A stumble may prevent a fall
- English Proverb

Favorite Food:

Tea and crumpets


Chatting, macrame, collecting teacups

March 10, 2010

Case Studies: Facebook Bomb Scare

Thank goodness for social networking sites! Four students from a New Jersey high school were discussing the best way to blow up their school over the Internet, and, luckily, they were doing it on a social networking site. One of their friends saw the discussion, printed out a copy of it, and handed it in to the high school principal the very next day. Taking the threat seriously, the principal evacuated the school, had the plotters arrested, and saw that local police searched their homes. The arrested students said that they were just joking and that they were surprised anyone took the threat seriously.

Joking?!? And I thought jokes were supposed to be funny! My dear cadets, if you see anyone making threats against a school or anyone you know, whether you think they’re joking or not, tell a trusted adult right away. Imagine if the students were serious and no one had told the principal what they were planning? I can hardly stand thinking about it!

School threats are never funny, no matter what. The student that came forward with the information did the right thing, and I’m sure her classmates and teachers really appreciate it!

posted by Betty
topics: Case Studies

November 19 2009

Case Studies: David Rice and Naomi Broady

At the risk of sounding like a skipping CD (do people even use CDs anymore?), I need to say this again: Be careful what you put on the Internet! Recently, two young tennis stars from Britain learned this the hard way. Apparently, their tennis league read that these two players were up to no good off the tennis court. And how did they find this out, you ask? The tennis players bragged about the bad things they did on a social networking site!

Because the tennis stars weren't careful about what they put on the internet, the tennis league suspended them. Now they can't play! My dear cadets, learn from their silly but costly mistake!

posted by Betty
topics: Case Studies

August 2 2009

Case Studies: Vicious Attacks on YouTube

Recently, videos of severe beatings have made their way onto YouTube. In one video, four teenage girls and two teenage boys are seen brutally attacking one girl so badly that they knocked her out. The attackers were arrested and, thanks in part to the video, were charged with three separate felonies! Unfortunately, this isn't the only example of this sort of thing. In June of this year, two women and three teenagers were arrested for the beating of a 15-year-old girl. The video came to the attention of a school officer who then reported it to the police. The victim of the beating suffered a broken eye socket in addition to her other injuries.

What is wrong with these people? It's bad enough that people want to hurt one another, but they feel the need to tape it, too? My dear cadets, if you see someone being hurt, put down the camera and pick up a phone! Call the police! Or, if you see someone you know getting hurt in an Internet video, make sure to bookmark the site and tell a trusted adult right away! Remember, the only time people get away with doing bad things is when good people do nothing to stop them.

posted by Betty
topics: Case Studies

July 22 2009

Case Studies: Suicide over Internet Relationships

A few years ago in Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, a young teen named Megan Meier committed suicide due to an online friendship that ended badly. As tragic as this is, it takes an even sadder turn when one discovers that the boy Megan befriended never existed. The boy was just a mean trick thought up by someone cyberbullying Megan.

According to police records, Megan had been fighting with a female classmate. Her classmate's mother, Lori Drew, pretended to be a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans in order to gain Megan's trust and friendship. After several weeks of friendly conversation, Lori Drew, posing as the young boy, turned on Megan and ended their friendship nastily. Megan, who was already struggling with depression, killed herself on the night their friendship ended.

Megan's parents, friends, and neighbors waited for the police to bring the cyberbully to justice. Unfortunately, there were no laws yet that made cyberbullying a crime. This sad situation happens more and more often as technology develops faster than our legal system can handle.

Not willing to accept that Lori Drew would get away with her cyberbullying, Megan's friends and neighbors decided to do what they could to get justice. They flooded the Internet with posts containing the Drew's home address, home phone number, cell phone numbers, and photos, which resulted in innumerable harassing phone calls and visits. One person went so far as to make a false 911 call which caused the local police to surround the Drew's house.

My dear cadets, although we may see such acts of vigilante justice as reasonable responses, it is important to note that this is not the right response to such awful situations. Though the friends and neighbors of Megan deserve justice, perhaps they would have done the world a bigger service by working with law makers to create statutes to protect future victims of cyber crime. Better yet, they could have started programs to educate local youth on the dangers of meeting weirdo strangers online (and, apparently, weirdo neighbors) to prevent this sort of thing from ever happening again.

posted by Betty
topics: Case Studies

June 2 2009

Case Studies: Graffiti Scandal

In Florence, Italy there is a famous 15th-century cathedral, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, with walls covered in graffiti from tourists. Even though the cathedral is a historic monument, it has become so common for tourists to vandalize it by scribbling their name on the ancient stones that the cathedral actually has staff members whose sole job is to scrub off the graffiti. But, this local cultural tidbit didn't become global news until a Japanese tourist photographed graffiti in his own language and shared it online.

Suddenly, Japanese news reporters were scrambling over each other to discover more cases of graffiti. Online forums were full of furious people saying the tourists should be punished for their behavior. Online blogs and photo-sharing sites were scoured for more photos of graffiti, which were then distributed throughout the community. Because the vandals had signed their names on the building, it was very easy for people to figure out who they were.

A few of the students whose graffiti was discovered were expelled from school, while others had to return to Florence to remove the graffiti and pay hundreds of dollars for damages. Another culprit, a 30-year-old teacher, lost his job.

While I don't approve of the tourists' behavior, it is unfortunate that the entire country was in an uproar against a few individuals because of how easy it is to share pictures online and because they signed their full names. In this case, someone shared their personal information offline, but then someone else put it online and the situation rapidly blew out of control.

posted by Betty
topics: Case Studies

April 21 2009

Case Studies: Government Rules about Sharing Online

It may seem like cyberspace is one great big global space where everyone is equal and has the same rights, but unfortunately it's not true. Every country has their own policies about what their citizens can and can't do in cyberspace. Some countries see the Internet as a threat to the way of life because of how easy it is for people to share ideas and opinions. They may have rules that prevent their citizens from using the Internet, limit which Web sites they are allowed to visit, or prevent them from sharing their own opinions in cyberspace.

More bloggers than ever are being arrested for sharing their opinions in cyberspace. In December 2007, Saudi Arabia's most popular blogger, Fouad al-Farhan, was detained for questioning because he criticized his government on his blog. Unlike many other bloggers in his country, he used his real name, so it was easy for law enforcement to find him.

My dear cadets, I know you think I'm being paranoid when I tell you to be careful about posting things online, and I know I sound like a worry wart when I caution you against using your real name. But it's for good reason, I assure you. Even if your government allows you to share your opinions online, it can still land you in a whole lot of trouble. All I am saying is to be smart about it. I know you can.

posted by Betty
topics: Case Studies

October 21 2008

Personal Information: Politicians and their permanent records

Elections are always a very interesting time to be a citizen. Throughout the course of a campaign, the candidates' lives are closely examined by everyone. Journalists and other politicians are eager to find examples of mistakes they have made in the past in order to make people question their judgment and their decision making. This negative campaigning, also called mudslinging, can sometimes unearth some pretty bad "secrets" that can potentially ruin people's careers.

My dear cadets, remember what I said about your permanent record? Thirty years from now it probably won't matter what your hair looked like, what shoes you wore, or even if you didn't get the greatest grade on that biology test. But it will matter what you posted online, especially if you become a politician.

Anything you say and do online will still be around when you're an adult and can easily come back to haunt you. Just look at former Congressman Mark Foley. He had to resign from Congress after it was discovered that he had been chatting inappropriately with high school students online.

Mark Foley may not have realized that his actions in cyberspace were easily traceable or that anyone would look into them, and as a result his reputation was destroyed. Learn from his mistake, cadets, and don't ever let anything that could ruin your reputation or your future end up in cyberspace.

posted by Betty
topics: Personal Information, Case Studies

August 19 2008

Safe Online Communication: Online/Offline friends

Sometimes it's very difficult to tell if someone is really telling you the truth in cyberspace. People can hide behind a false identity, and some are so good at it that they can trick you for months, even years. You may be so convinced that the person you are chatting with is a kid just like you, and that you’ll be perfectly safe if you meet up with them offline to go get ice cream. But some kids who have been just as convinced have gotten themselves into some very dangerous situations.

Like Kacie Rene Woody, a 13-year-old girl who was kidnapped and killed by a man she met in an Internet chat room, a 47 year old man whom she thought was a 17 year old teenager. People like the man who killed Kacie are called cyber predators, and they frequently develop elaborate lies to try and trick kids into being friends with them and meeting them in person. Kacie believed the person she was chatting with was her friend, and that he just wanted to spend some time with her. Kacie's misplaced trust ended up costing her dearly.

My dear cadets, learn from Kacie's story. If you have online friends, keep them as online-only friends. If you want to meet up with people to go get ice cream, only meet up with your offline friends, kids you go to school with or play sports with. Better yet, only chat with your real, offline friends in cyberspace. You'll be much safer that way.

posted by Betty
topics: Safe Online Communication, Case Studies