The ad was definitely made to terrify parents, which I don’t love, but its message is true: we all need to be much more careful about our online images than we have been. It mentions that most parents have online social media “friends” that they don’t actually know in real life, and that in my opinion is one of the first things that needs to change that we can easily change ourselves. Locking down accounts and making them private won’t solve all the security risks of living life online, but it does make you less accessible, and every little bit helps.
People with bad intentions can (and do!) even use AI to fake a loved one’s voice and make fake ransom calls, so although it may seem crazy, having a code word with your family members to verify identity if they are ever in trouble is another thing we all need to consider. No parent is capable of being calm when they get a phone call with their distressed child’s voice on the other end. This is why having a plan in place before hand is key. Being able to say, “Baby, just tell me our family password,” before you give in to any ransom demands could save your family a ton of heartache if AI is involved.
As the mom of one young adult, a teen, and a tween, I am not sure what to think. Do I go back and delete every photo from when I first got Facebook in 2008? Or do I just move forward more cautiously from here on out? One thing I do know is that if I had it to do all over again, I would be more careful. Hindsight is, after all, 20/20.
If nothing else, grown-up fake digital Ella gives parents of minors these days a lot to think about. Maybe we didn’t know what we were doing then, but now we do. We can’t un-know it, and we need to move forward with the knowledge that the digital footprint WE create for our children could haunt THEM for years to come.