There are no secrets on social media.
That was Detective Constable Warren Bulmer’s message to West Hill Collegiate Institute students at the #DontBFooled event featuring dramatic presentations, quizzes and speeches.
Toronto Police Service Financial Crimes Unit and 43 Division collaborated to host the event on November 1 to kick-off Financial Literacy Month.
Bulmer’s presentation was aimed mainly at Snapchat and Instagram users.
“Regardless of whether you think something is temporary or screened or only shared with a select audience or, in fact, disappears into nowhereland when the timer expires when you are using Snapshot, that is untrue,” he told the high school students. “Information can always be removed, maybe not in its entirety, but partially. Sometimes, when you have partial bits, we can put that data together to paint a full story.”
Bulmer said, while most Instagram users have private accounts, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the pictures they are using on their account will not end up somewhere else.
“Don’t assume only your followers can see it,” he said. “There are users who go to Twitter and, with their Twitter account, post the link to their Instagram photos. If you take and cross-pollinate information like that, that photo is no longer private.”
Assigned to the FCU to investigate organized, multi-jurisdictional and complex fraud cases, Bulmer reminded the students their privacy could be compromised when they use a device in a public domain.
“When you use wi-fi at McDonald’s or Starbucks, there are other people there using the same network,” he said. “Among them could be a fraudster who is running a series of utilities or tools that’s capturing what other people are doing while connected to the same network. That is how something can happen so innocently.”
Superintendent Mark Fenton, of 43 Division, was in attendance to greet students while Inspector Dave Vickers, of the Financial Crimes Unit, thanked the West Hill school community for inviting Toronto Police to be part of the event.
Sarah Rogers, of Victim Services Toronto, also addressed the students.
The multi-service agency provides crisis-response, trauma and support services to victims of crime and sudden tragic circumstances 24 hours a day. Supervised by crisis counsellors, volunteers provide crisis intervention and referrals, assist on the telephone or attend the scene as requested and also help with fundraising and other community outreach initiatives.
“Because we come at the back end of trauma and crime, we realize we have a duty and responsibility to prevent crime,” said Rogers.
She pointed to the Tear Ending Abusive Relationships (T.E.A.R.) program, which VST has been operating independently for the past nine years.
Geared towards young people enrolled in middle and high schools in the Greater Toronto Area, T.E.A.R. combines media clips and music videos to illustrate the devastating effects and unique dynamics of domestic violence.
“Every Thursday evening, starting at 7 p.m., T.E.A.R. participants have an online Twitter chat where we talk about all of this stuff,” said Rogers, of recognizing signs of an abusive relationship.
Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter, the Member of Provincial Parliament for the riding that the school is in, sent a message that was read by her Community Engagement manager Camesha Cox.
“Events like these truly strengthen our communities and I am delighted to see the initiatives being undertaken to increase awareness among our youth about protecting their reputation, money and identity online,” she said. “The risks associated with online activity affect the lives of countless individuals and families in our communities. Challenges such as cyberbullying and identity theft are not always easy to spot and can be challenging to address. That is why it is important that we work together to raise awareness and help our youth to stay safe online.”
West Hill Collegiate Institute grade 12 student Aarapi Thayananthan was the Master of Ceremony for the event, co-ordinated by Gail Regan and Diane Kelly of the Financial Crimes Unit and Constable Randy Arsenault of 43 Division.