Protect Yourself On Zello and Other Social Media - An article Provided by Ring Of Fire Chat Channel on Zello
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If you or someone you know has been a victim of cyber-bullying/
harassment, threatened, or hurt by anyone on Zello

Unfortunately, contacting Zello staff about a harassment or other issue happening on the app will often yield little to no results and leave you disappointed that your aggressor is still on the app victimizing you and possibly others. Zello often does not take seriously the issues that are very real and dominant on it's application. If Zello does take action, the victim may find themselves waiting quite awhile before any results occur. The abusive user may get banned (MAC address blocked) from Zello, but once he/she gets a new phone, they often return and may come looking for you again to victimize you all over again.

Unfortunately Zello staff does not take cyber-harassment as seriously as they should and as some other social medias do, such as Facebook, even when ample evidence is provided by the user submitting the complaint. So what are you to do in that case? Well, another unfortunate thing is that you may feel helpless and that is understandable, since adequate laws have not been implemented and the manpower needed for these cases is also lacking. Since the Internet has no boundaries, meaning criminals can victimize people beyond state and country lines, there are jurisdiction issues, and therefore the abilities of authorities becomes difficult or outside their reach. There usually is little to nothing that you or the authorities can do about the aggressor, but in some cases, you are not totally without options.

Below are resources for you so you can get information on what you can do to limit the ability for harassers to contact you, protect yourself and your children, as well as what steps to take to get authorities to protect you and/or make the abuser stop and pay for his/her crimes against you.

These are some common crimes that are committed through social media:

  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Doxing (sharing your private info. ie: full name, address, personal photos, etc on profiles, pages, etc.)
  • Slander (verbal false statements about a user)
  • Defamation (Common forms: Contacting victim's employer to lose job or others so victim may be ostracized.)
  • Libel (written false statements about a user)
  • Death or other physical or property threats
  • Identity theft
  • Impersonation (ie: someone impersonates victim so victim experiences consequences of actions, not the perp.)
  • Catfishing
  • Blackmail
  • Coercion
  • Hacking accounts/ devices (all kinds of damage/ mischief can be caused from this.)
  • Phishing & social engineering
  • Finding victims for crimes off the Internet, such as burglary
  • Sex crimes
  • Various Internet scams
  • Conspiring to do any of the above
  • More (this is not a complete list of crimes perpetrated via social media)

If you have been stalked and/or harassed on the internet, you have rights!
Use the following resources for more information.

FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
How to Report Internet Harassment
5 Ways to Handle and Prevent Cyber-Harassment
What is Cyberstalking and Cyberharrasment?
State Cyberstalking and Cyberharrasment Laws
How to Report Cyberbullying (For minors and their parents)
Report a Cyberstalker

I have been a victim of several of the crimes listed above through Zello and off Zello from people originating from that app. So, I understand what happens. Remember, if you are being victimized, as soon as you recognize a pattern (like 2-3 times) of such activity, begin to journal it with dates, times and other details, along with what happened and all evidence available. On Zello, the most common things to gather are recordings and screenshots. If you don't know how to do either, follow the instructions below. The above mentioned 'pattern' doesn't include when YOU go to a channel and get picked on. You made the choice to go there and have the choice to leave. I'm talking about when others intentionally go out of their way to make harrassing contact with you, whether in a channel you enjoy, sending a contact request, contact on other social media, doxing, or finding your number and calling or texting you, etc.

How to save recordings from the history (in channels or one-on-one messages)

  1. Click on the 'History' button.
  2. Click on the share button.
  3. Check the box next to each message you want to save. (Note: you can save up to 20 transmissions per save. If the messages are longer, then you may have to deselect some, as they will not all fit into one save. Perhaps 16-17 messages will work in that case. If you need to save more transmissions, remember where you left off and return to save the rest.)
  4. Decide how you want the transmissions to be sent to you. I suggest email. The messages are now on a page(s) on Zello and has it's own unique URL.
  5. Optional: To save the messages to your hard drive or other media. Click the download button located below the transmissions table on the right. Give the file a name and save all evidence to one folder. All the messages on that page will be saved to one mp3 file. Give the file a name, which should include the date and a bit of identifying information.

    How to save screenshots
    Most devices have a screenshot application or feature built in. See your device's manual for instructions. Many Androids have the ability of taking screenshots by swiping your (whole) fingers (like 3-4 fingers) from one side of the screen to the other. Some phones may require you to press the home and power button at the same time or the power and volume up or down buttons simultaneously. On a computer, if you don't have a program for that, I recommend using a small and easy to use free program named 'Screen Grab Pro'. You can select an area to capture just the area you want, then save as jpg or other image file. You do not need to save an entire page. It's a small, very simple to use program.

To see an example of a rather extensive harassment campaign that was perpetrated mainly on Zello and to see how evidence how of it was assembled, click here. This was a several month long campaign headed by one person and partly carried out by several of her cohorts. Many of the mods in the targeted channel were also harassed and bothered by her and her conspirators. By the way, despite the great deal of evidence and meticulous journaling, (that Zello requested in order to "take action") Zello staff did not impose any consequences to anyone involved. Not a single person was banned and Zello never replied to the evidence I sent them that was upon their request after my initial complaint. If nothing would be done by Zello staff after receiving that much evidence, it makes one wonder what it would take for them to actually take action. If around 100 separate occasions detailing harassment is not enough, then how much is enough?

There were a total of 10 crimes committed during that hate campaign, including harassment, slander, libel, stalking, doxing, impersonation, conspiracy, and more. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident by any means and this person and her cohorts have had several hundreds of complaints against them reported to Zello staff, particularly against the person who headed the campaign. She has done many of the same things to a great deal of people from Zello, to varying degrees. Her local police department has also had close to one hundred complaints made about her, as well. She has a criminal past, but compared to all that she has done, she deserves far more than the small 10 counts she has received on her record.

Don't think this could happen to you? THINK AGAIN! ....And, it could be even worse!

We, at Ring Of Fire, encourage you to educate yourself and your children, if you have any, about how to prevent and protect yourself from cyber crimes, as well as learn what to do if you do become a victim. The following are some tips on things you should do to limit harassers' ammo against you, limit your exposure in the spotlight of such people, reduce the likelihood of becoming a target, and how to minimize the attacks if you do become one.

Protect yourself on Zello (much of this also applies to other social media)

  1. I recommend you use an alias as a screen name; an online persona that suits you. Or at the minimum, if you do choose to use your first name, DO NOT ever put your last name on your profile or tell anyone what it is.
  2. Do not tell people what city you live in. You may also want to think whether or not you want to even share what state you reside in.
  3. Never give out the name of the place where you work. People can attempt to contact your employer and tell lies about you in hopes you will lose your job, or may actually show up there to do you harm or follow you to your residence, putting you and everyone you reside with in harm's way.
  4. Never give out your date of birth or put it on your profile. Keep in mind, even if you don't say your birth date, people can easily do the math and figure it out if you simply state your age verbally or on your profile and then at the same time or at another time state your birthday. The more personal information that you share about yourself, the easier it is for people to find out who you are, where you are, private details of you, or even steal your identity.
  5. Do not use pictures of you on your profile. If you do share a picture to someone privately, be careful what you send. That person may not remain a friend and may distribute those photos. They can be edited, adding text or other things to the image. (A good example: There was a user who put a selfie on his profile. His picture was copied, and the cell phone in his hand [that he used to take the selfie with] was edited out and replaced with a man's penis. This pic was more distributed than any other picture of it's kind, even appearing on channels.)
  6. NEVER SEND ANYONE NUDE OR SIMILAR IMAGES of yourself. They WILL get distributed. It's just a matter of time. Quite often, a user will be angry when he/she is no longer a romantic interest and will want revenge for being jilted, and one of the things they often think of is to expose you for "the whore that you are" and attempt to embarrass you and drag your reputation through the mud.
  7. Any picture of you on your profile can be screenshotted by another, then searched in Google Images and if that picture is on your other social media, they can potentially get your private info, and use whatever they find on there to further harass and/or embarrass you. Once they have your full name, they can find out more information about you and a myriad of techniques can be devised against you. If you decide to share a photo of you in a channel, be selective about which channel it is, and be sure it is not one that is already elsewhere in the Internet, which can thusly be linked back to you and your personal information. If you really want a picture of you on your profile, try a 'Snapchat'-style photo with the things over you face, like the animal noses with whiskers, etc, this will help obscure your identity, while still revealing a bit of your cuteness and character.
  8. Try to only go to channels with mature-minded, friendly people. (I know, there's not a lot of them) If you go to banter channels and talk smack with users, you're more likely to become a target on Zello. There are all kinds of people on Zello, including unstable people with short fuses. The smallest things can set them off. Sometimes, you don't have to even say anything wrong. I didn't. I merely opened a channel that competed with this user's channels, and the smear campaign and harassment went on for months! Psychopaths don't need a legitimate reason to fixate on someone and attempt to make their life a living hell. They love to do it! So they are waiting for good targets to come along. Just being someone that people like can be reason enough for these individuals to mark someone as a target. You could have characteristics they don't and they envy...and that's it! Game on!!! So, as you can see, limiting where you go on Zello can make a big difference and save you from an ongoing situation.
  9. If someone harasses you, DO NOT RETALIATE! It just legitimizes what they are doing and can aggravate the situation. It also weakens your case against them if and when you decide to contact authorities about their behavior. If you've had enough, ask them ONCE to stop what they are doing politely and professionally. After that, do not make them aware that you are even noticing anything they are doing...but silently take note of it ALL.
  10. Do not talk about your harasser/stalker on Zello, except maybe your closest friend on there. If you share this with many people, it could (scratch that...WILL) go through a rumor mill and get back to the abuser, making the situation worse. Especially since when things go through the rumor mill, they come out way different and WAY worse with embellishments from trouble makers who thrive on watching drama unfold. You would just be giving them a hefty portion of tasty drama which some people really crave on Zello. Also by telling only one person, if the info is leaked, you know who leaked it.
  11. Be careful what you say, as transmissions of you can be saved, shared with others and used against you. And they can be used in very creative ways you would never imagine. Messages can even be edited, then played to users to make it appear you said some inappropriate things that you never said. This has happened many times, so it could also happen to you. One thing you could do is play music lightly in the background when you're talking on Zello. If your messages are ever edited, it would become obvious, due to the songs (or parts of songs) being changed repeatedly and often in the background. It won't match up and will make it more obvious that the recordings were tampered with.

Check out these staggering statistics:

40 percent of internet users have personally experienced online harassment.
Over 50% of teens have been cyber bullied. 25% of them have been bullied repeatedly.
25% of reported online victims received threats of offline violence from their abuser.
Only 10% of cyber bullying victims have reported it.
10-20% of victims who have reported online bullying experience it regularly
19% of cyber bullying victims attempt suicide

We hope the information above helps you and yours!

I'm not trying to scare you. I'm only trying to look out for you by educating you through my knowledge and own experience, observations and sensible thoughts. The Zello app is not all bad by any means. I assure you of that without a doubt. I know. I have been on Zello since September 2013 and have run Ring Of Fire for most of that time. Some increadibly wonderful things happen there and I gladly welcome you to create your own memorable experiences there. I've seen tons of sharing, lots of great friendships born, volumes of learning, meaningful, caring connections, and so much more that has enriched the lives of so many users around the world, looking for a safe haven on this little corner of cyberspace we call Ring Of Fire on a wonderful piece of cyber technology named Zello!

Be safe and happy Zelloing!



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