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- Keep your MXit password (PIN) secret and ensure it is at least 8 digits long and not an obvious choice.
- Change your password immediately if you suspect someone is using your account.
- Never reveal or send your password to anyone – MXit will never ask for your password.
- Do not let your phone be used by someone else without you being present.
- Never reveal any personal information such as your phone number, MXit pin, residential address or school address while in a chat room. This also goes for revealing personal information about your friends and family to strangers.
- Never accept an invitation from a stranger on MXit – simply deny the invitation if it is someone you don’t know.
- Always be aware the people you are talking to on MXit, or in any internet chat room, may not be who they say they are.
- Keep your online relationships online! Even if you think you know your contacts well enough, we still strongly advise that you DO NOT physically meet with strangers. Paedophiles and other offenders are clever; they sometimes spend months gaining their victims’ trust before asking them to meet with them.
- Let MXit support team know of any suspicious behavior. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or post it on the MXit forum at http://forum.mxit.com.
- Do not download any fake versions of MXit. Download MXit only from official website http://www.mxit.com
Your Web AddiCT will add an 11th tip to this: Do NOT believe everything you read in the paper, see on the news, watch on TV or the Internet.
Read the full press release and share below or download the original document from the MXit website here
Read this document on Scribd: concerned about MXit safety? (valuable info for parents & teachers)
Mixed up about MXit MXit is a pioneering local company that, using existing technologies, namely internet, GPRS data connections and mobile phones, gives nearly 7.5 million registered users of the South African population access to free communication. In addition to the free one-on-one communication MXit offers, and in order for it to continue delivering this service, it also offers affordable entertainment to its community, from music to chat rooms to mobile content. Unfounded accusations: “It saddens me,” says Herman Heunis, founder and CEO of MXIt “to read, and I quote “MXit management had known for years that there were problems with the service and that it had been abused by youth as well as criminal elements”. It is disturbing to note that some critics go so far as to label MXit as “extremely dangerous” and some even suggest that MXit is involved in most crimes where the youth is involved. Clearly there is a serious misunderstanding as to how MXit’s technology works and where responsibilities lie. Normal Instant Messaging (IM) which forms the core of the MXit product is perfectly safe as every user can chat only to his/her circle of friends once added as a contact on their mobile phones. The concept of IM has been around for more than a decade and was brought to the South African mobile world by MXit in May 2005. About 95% of MXit’s entire user base (international users included) of nearly 9 million registered users, use MXit primarily and solely for this type of communication and it is perfectly safe, free and easy to use. The vast majority of problems, where MXit is implicated, originate from the public chat rooms and only when patrons do not stick to basic internet security practices as promoted by MXit and many other internet sites. The idea of chat rooms was introduced to the internet world many years ago and MXit saw fit to add this functionality as a paid service for its users. Public chat rooms allow strangers to meet and exchange messages in a virtual world and as long as total anonymity is maintained, it is safe. Revealing personal information in any public chat room is extremely irresponsible as the possibility of criminal elements being present is a reality. It becomes dangerous when people, who meet in public chat rooms, agree to meet in person and various newspaper reports all over the world have continually borne witness to this. The brutal reality is that criminal elements world-wide have been on the internet for years and unfortunately MXit is not spared this evil. MXit started publishing safety guidelines nearly three years’ ago and continually makes enhancements to its product and guidelines to ensure greater security for its users. Some of the safety mechanisms MXit has created for its chat room users include: 1. 2. 3. 4. A MXit user’s identity remains anonymous when he/she is in a dynamic chat zone. Every time a MXit user enters a chat zone he/she is reminded to keep all personal details private. All teen chat rooms have age restrictions to prevent older people from accessing it and vice versa. A MXit user is able to create his/ her own private chat room. A user is able to create his/ her own topic for the room as well as set a password for entrance. Only those in possession of the password can enter the room. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. MXit users can leave chat rooms at any time or simply type the “.ignore” command to ignore someone who is behaving inappropriately. All MXit chat zones are subject to random monitoring by MXit moderators (called MXit_Magis) to identify and stop inappropriate behaviour. All chat zones are moderated during peak times and up to 14 hours per day. Most chat zones (all teen zones) contain profanity filters that replace swear words with the # symbol. MXit does not store user profile information, e.g. personal details, photographs, etc. MXit actively discourages any form of discrimination and/or explicit sexual chat or sexual naming of chat rooms. MXit users are encouraged to report any abuse they may have experienced on MXit. This can be done through the website: http://www.mxit.com. Alternatively, users can report offensive behaviour while they are in the chat room by using the “.rat” command and a moderator will intercept within 6 to 12 hours of reporting. Based upon the validity of the report, the abuser can be suspended from the chat zone or possibly banned. MXit safe chatting tips are on the MXit website and the MXit forum as well as on the mobile phone application (send safe to Info), and users are reminded to view them. The .request command allows users to converse directly to MXit developers, technicians as well as the moderating team should they wish to suggest technical or moderation changes. The crux of the matter lies in that once a user purchases access to a chat room, he/she must adhere to the safety principles at all times. It is humanly impossible for MXit (or any other internet company) to prevent chat room users from revealing personal information. Guidelines to parents and teens are available on MXit’s web site: http://www.mxit.com/web/safety.htm and MXit’s terms and conditions are available on web and WAP. Defamatory lists: This time, the chat rooms were not the target of abuse, but the facility which enables users to send attachments, such as pictures or messages (written and saved in MXit), to their personal contacts. This feature was intended to enable users to share experiences, such as buying a pair of shoes, i.e. they can take a picture of the shoes, send it to all their friends for opinions before buying them. The recent defamatory lists were maliciously created, saved and forwarded to the personal contacts of the user(s) who created them. These users in turn forwarded this attachment to their personal contacts, and so on. To reiterate, attachments cannot be sent in chat rooms as this is technically impossible. MXit has been severely criticized for taking too long to respond and was labeled as “naïve” and “irresponsible” to allow this problem to linger for months without any action. The measure of these insinuations seems to be based on the fact that MXit’s response was not widely publicized in the press. This issue only raised its head in July and MXit was first made aware of it by its users on 10th July 2008. MXit immediately launched an investigation and the decision was taken to find and remove these defamatory lists as they are against MXit’s terms and conditions. The technical process to find these messages is a mammoth one, given that there are several hundred million messages being saved by users, changed, forwarded and deleted at any time. Due to this and the initially limited information provided to MXit, some of which was found to be inaccurate, the speed and success of its investigation was hampered. Success was severely compromised when the press publicized the information, resulting in the original perpetrators deleting the files in question and exacerbating the problem by inciting copycats to jump on the bandwagon. By the 25th July, thirty-seven e-mail complaints had been received, and each one individually responded to. In terms of the Constitution the privacy of all individuals is protected by law. Any investigation by any party where privacy details are accessed without a high court subpoena is illegal. Section 14 of the Constitution states clearly that: “Everyone has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have … the privacy of their communications infringed”. MXit has absolutely no legal right to extract information from alleged culprits unless authorized by a subpoena and as such can do little more than delete the defamatory lists. The victims of these defamatory lists can open a criminal (or civil) case with the authorities and once a high court subpoena is obtained, require MXit (as well as the operators/networks and/or ISPs) to provide the necessary information to prosecute culprits. MXit’s current actions: MXit has: (1) (2) (3) Deleted all defamatory message brought to its attentions and will continue to do so. Responded to every single complaint e-mail it has received and will continue to do so. Reinstituted, effective 8 am on 5th August, a temporary charge for broadcasting and forwarding of all messages which were free. “This is not an ideal solution to the problem and it will unfortunately negatively impact our international users as they have limited facilities available to acquire credits (Moola) to use this facility; but we hope to stop the chain letter effect in the short term” says Heunis. Assisted the authorities in supplying data and will continue to do so. Urged defamed individuals to open criminal cases (crimen injuria) against perpetrators. (4) (5) In summary, malicious actions online have much the same legal consequences as misbehaving in the physical world. Ten basic safety tips (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Keep your MXit password (PIN) secret and ensure it is at least 8 digits long and not an obvious choice. Change your password immediately if you suspect someone is using your account. Never reveal or send your password to anyone – MXit will never ask for your password. Do not let your phone be used by someone else without you being present. Never reveal any personal information such as your phone number, MXit pin, residential address or school address while in a chat room. This also goes for revealing personal information about your friends and family to strangers. Never accept an invitation from a stranger on MXit – simply deny the invitation if it is someone you don’t know. Always be aware the people you are talking to on MXit, or in any internet chat room, may not be who they say they are. Keep your online relationships online! Even if you think you know your contacts well enough, we still strongly advise that you DO NOT physically meet with strangers. (6) (7) (8) Paedophiles and other offenders are clever; they sometimes spend months gaining their victims’ trust before asking them to meet with them. (9) Let MXit support team know of any suspicious behavior. Send e-mail to email@example.com or post it on the MXit forum at http://forum.mxit.com. (10) Do not download any fake versions of MXit. Download MXit only from official website http://www.mxit.com
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