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Internet safety practices

Hello everyone!

Duolingo is thriving! So, let's all use internet safety practices to ensure that Duolingo is thriving and safe.

In general, sharing your last name or phone number online can be risky. Sometimes, people can look up your address that way.

If you add online friends you meet on Duolingo (or elsewhere) on your Facebook, don't add things to your FB profile like age, last name, address, email, phone number, or where you go to school. Also recognize that seeing that information on someone else's FB doesn't mean they are telling the truth. If someone says they are your same age, it might not be true.

If you want to skype with people you've met here, please only put your skype on your profile, not in the forums. This way, you can remove people's access to your skype as soon as you want, without hunting for the post.

I want to encourage you not to use a Skype that is connected to your regular email or offline name. If you meet someone who is a bully or who is dangerous, it is good to have a Skype ID that you can get rid of and that they can't use to figure out your email address or to follow you home. And, give your skype username, alternate email address, and/or alternate Facebook name to a trusted offline friend. That way, if something bad does happen, it will give the authorities somewhere to start.

If you are under 18 and someone complements "how mature you are for your age", that's a red flag. Some people do this to get you to feel like they recognize and validate the real you, to get you to like and trust them in order to inspire you to take risks. Don't fall for it!

And don't forget that the Guidelines ask us not to share our age, address, email, or phone number anywhere on Duolingo. This is also for our safety. Because some unsafe people are specifically looking to find internet users who are under 18, if you fall into that age bracket, not sharing your age isn't enough. Don't tell people your school grade, that you are home schooled, or any other hints like that.

The biggest false sense of security is simply disconnecting yourself from the possibility, thinking "this couldn't happen to me" or "I'm smarter than people this happens to so it won't happen to me." (I had a 4 year, full paid scholarship to the university of my choice by 7th grade, I'm smart, and I ended up meeting and trusting a bad person without realizing it until later.) Always interact as though it could happen to you. Practice internet safety, and even then never trust that you've done enough so you'll always be 10 times safer than you think you need to be. Always better to over prepare in safety than accidentally not be safe enough.

Thank you, and good luck with your language studies everyone! ^_^

August 22, 2015



I'm going to throw this out there because I know it doesn't seem entirely real for a lot of people that someone could actually track them down based on the sparse details they post about themselves.

There have been a few times when I've needed to track someone down with scant information, sometimes just a name and one other piece of identifying information like an age or approximate location, and thirty minutes on Google with just those details often reveals a scary amount of information including phone numbers, relatives, addresses (current and past) and assorted other facts.

I once even had to track down someone without having a name, just that they were a friend or relative of a particular person that had died 20 years ago, an approximate age (give or take a year or two) and the state that they had been living in six months previous. And based on just that information and nothing else, I was able to find them in a day.

Just using Google.

Now, I don't go looking for random people I meet online, and I would never try to find someone in order to do them harm. But there are people who do and who would, and they are just as capable of using Google as I am.

The Internet is not like chatting with your friend in real life or talking on the phone. Anyone in the world can read what you post, and stuff you posted six months or a year ago doesn't just disappear. It is still out there if someone goes looking for it.

So be aware that just because the person you are talking to is a good person who won't try to hurt you doesn't mean they are the only person who is ever going to see what you posted, and just because a detail about yourself seems like it doesn't matter doesn't mean someone can't put it together with other seemingly useless bits of information to find out more about you.

Always try to be careful about what you post online and make sure that anything you do post is something you wouldn't mind every single person in the world knowing about you.


It sounds like you have are a very particular set of skills, skills you have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make you a nightmare for people like us.


That looks like a quote. What are you quoting? I must know!


Haha, Liam Neeson from Taken


Knew it looked familiar.


there was a hilarious joke off that in an episode of "The Amazing World of Gumball" where a character said "I have a very particular set of skills, skills I have aquired over a very long career in real estate..."


"...but if you don't, I will look for you, I WILL find you, and I will build a house around you...with no doors."


This guy just deleted his real name from his profile ... thanks for helping protect him from any fatal attractions or bad foreign-language serenades! Hopefully the Linkedin and FB links are enough for professional networking purposes, and maybe the higher-ups should remove the "Fullname" profile feature altogether. In any case, I think Duolingo can further help keep users' interests safe by avoiding acquisition by any tech behemoth!


That reminds me to ask them about that. It's been there as long as I've been here that I wonder if it's been considered in a while.


Apologies if I come across as a bit of a troll, but this should really have been improved a long time ago if privacy was a concern at duolingo., As the privacy email address in the privacy statement does not exist at this time it tends to give a impression on the importance of privacy, and my profile does somewhat reflect that impression. I also realised this was going on, and that the username and real name I had entered, along with my course details and progress where instantly available on the Internet, after trying to disable the "feature", I ended up changing my details to reflect the feature. Its poor that during the sign up this isn't pointed out with some guidance, its not mentioned in the privacy policy either. Having to search forums afterwards for a non sticky post is not an really acceptable solution.


I agree that it should be changed. Had I the tools to change it, I would have long ago.


What annoys me is that you can't leave the full name section blank, it NEEDS a name, so I just put a false one because I wasn't sure if it would take an alias like "Aaron Frost" or something along the lines of that.


Can't you just press the 'space key' and have it blank?


When I signed up in 2016-06-27, I was able to skip the "name" field and all the other fields in:

[deactivated user]

    Thanks for the reminder Usagi!


    A great friendly reminder about something on duolingo? Well of course it's from the one and only Usagiboy7! Thanks for posting this for the community! It is because of the reasons you listed that a while ago I changed my username from my first and last name to what it is now. I know the duolingo staff is pleased with the excellent moderator you are. Thanks again! :)


    what sucks is people know my name off of my user because it with my school email and its for school they even know what school i got to


    Your profile only shows FA-782294, which doesn't look like a name or like an email address to me.


    FA my initials and 782294 is the start of my email if you guess it 782294@**


    i could change it but then my teacher cant see my thingey


    I don't use my real name in social media. I find strange how people do that and then share their whole lives for all the world to see. It's too dangerous, one "wrong" opinion, and you may even loose your job.


    Please also consider not posting photos of yourself online, since your face can be automatically recognized and connected to your profile, location (using geo information from your photos) and name in real-life and cyberspace.


    Just out of curiosity, why does everyone seem to fret about age? It'd make more sense to tell people not to reveal the country, state/province or city that they live in than to tell them not to reveal their age. I can't seem to find the actual statistics by doing a google search for it, but if I'm not mistaken there are 7,200,000,000 people worldwide, meaning that there would be about 720,000,000 people worldwide that correlate with a certain age, assuming that the population are all randomly distributed amongst ages one through a hundred. As it would defy logic for there to be fewer, for instance, fifteen-year-olds than thirty-six-year-olds, it would be even more statistically unlikely to track down a minor based on their age, not more likely.


    Probably because people are concerned about children being targeted and it's harder to target children if you don't know who is a child.


    Still, the sheer amount of emphasis on guarding someone's age rather than their city is quite simply astonishing.


    yes that is true and one more thing is putting your name cause they can search it up and get pictures and your address and stalk you


    Might I suggest this post be made "sticky"? I think it's important enough to keep it at the top of the discussion forum.


    It is - through Usagi's highest stick post ... http://www.duolingo.com/comment/8000024 .
    So it has been thought about - and has been actioned (whew)


    Though perhaps we could suggest a link is put in the header - to take you back to " Duolingo Wiki FAQ "


    This is a great reminder! The internet is getting bigger and bigger, and a ton of people forget about internet safety.


    Sorry about that, I did not know that I could not put my age up. I don't own a phone and I don't have Facebook or snap chat or skype whatever that is. This is the first time I have done something like this. but I probably should have known that rule for stuff like this. Thank you for telling me.


    Sometimes (often?) the Profile page links to the user's Facebook page. That's an easy way to find out who the person is. I'm going to go now and see if I can remove that from my profile.


    hum..!! some really cool points.. really helpful.

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