Chat rooms and messaging apps have grown and matured in a way that allows them to stand on their own as another social media resource. These virtual rooms allow people to send text messages in real time. They differ from private messaging, which is typically one on one, as these texts are revealed to a group of recipients. These forums allow users to engage with random people, and can also be restrictive to certain groups or members. The discussions range from casual conversation to deep philosophical topics. Like-minded subscribers can share information and get tips for problem solving. This opens up a vast resource for users.
But are there security risks with using these rooms? As with any online presence, you need to be aware that any information you share is shared with the whole group. Once you post information it is there forever and can be used and shared by others.
Can you join anonymously? Sure, but this does not guarantee your identity is safe. There are hackers who will infiltrate sites and steal user profiles. Remember the supposed anonymity of members using the dating site, Ashley Madison? The hacking of this site exposed members real identities. Many times these profiles will reveal the true identity of an anonymous login.
Keep in mind the types of people who may wish to join with anonymity. With everyone hiding their true identity it is difficult to tell if their motivations are malicious or innocent. There is no accountability so this can lead to bullying, trolling, or other predatory actions.
Follow these tips for practicing safe online chatting habits:
- Set strict security settings in your account. Use a strong password and 2FA to protect your account.
- Don’t reveal personal information like your age, address, phone number,pictures, etc.
- Don’t discuss personal issues.
- Don’t lie about yourself.
- Don’t participate in bullying activities or harrassment.
- Don’t click on links or download files.
- Don’t believe everything people tell you.
- Keep your messages relevant and positive.
- Report abusive behavior to the platform.
There are many constructive and practical aspects of these forums. The ability to reach folks across the globe can be beneficial, fun and engaging. It opens opportunities to meet different people with varying view points. This can lead to increased productivity, personal growth, training events and other enhancements.
Keep in mind that chat rooms are social media. Practice the same safeguards and privacy habits to ensure your experience is a positive one.