This week we will be taking a break from our traditional Weekly Updates to address one particular issue. The Updates will resume as normal next Wednesday.
We at deviantART.com are concerned for your safety. The internet is accessible to everyone from all walks of life and all ages and so is deviantART. Children, as well as adults, now populate the web in vast numbers making it difficult to distinguish the age of the person sitting behind the monitor.
Sadly, there are dangers to posting your personal information online and making it available to the world at large. However, you can protect yourself from harm by simply being smart about what you post online and how you interact with others.
We, the administration of deviantART, take your safety VERY seriously and would like to assure you that we are actively finding and banning, those who use the site inappropriately. While our team monitors user activities on a daily basis, deviantART is just too large for us to be everywhere and see everything so we also have to rely on reports from you, the individual. We take those reports very seriously and respond as quickly as we can to them.
We also have to rely on you protecting yourself as well as you can.
We have developed a list of guidelines and resource materials for users, as well as parents, and have listed them below.
Tips For Online Safety
The single most important thing you can do as a parent is always be aware of what your children are doing online, which sites they are visiting and what activities they are involved in. As a parent it is your right and responsibility to monitor the activity of children under the age of 18 in your home.
As a parent be involved in what your kids are doing online. Ask them questions about what they like to look at online; what sites they go to, why they like them and what attracts them to particular places. Keep an open dialogue with your children and share some of the things that you find online with them in order to make it comfortable for them to share with you.
Meeting People From the Internet
Parents-Be aware of any plans your child may have made to meet anyone they originally met online. This is of the utmost importance. Meeting people from the internet should be carefully monitored and should only be done in absolutely safe and controlled environments of a public nature. Meeting people in a one on one situation should never be encouraged.
Users-Never agree to meet anyone from the internet you do not know unless it is in a controlled environment or a larger meeting of people. For example, you might arrange to meet someone from deviantART for the first time at a deviantMEET (a function involving multiple people from dA, held in a public place) if you are comfortable with the location and know others who will be there. If you are under 18 and feel that meeting with someone is okay, your parents need to be aware and you should discuss it with
them and have their consent so that they know where you will be. Have a name and description of the person you are meeting and bring a friend along as well. If the person you are meeting is insisting you come alone (for ANY reason), we recommend you do not meet with them because chances are that they have some sort of ulterior motive.
A private one-on-one meeting should be avoided at all costs regardless of reasons they want to be alone (saying they are shy and uncomfortable around new people does not constitute a good reason. In fact, nothing does. Especially considering YOU are a "new person").
If someone begins asking you to meet them somewhere privately or somewhere
remote you should report them to us via the +helpdesk and stay away
from them. Protect yourself by not putting yourself in potentially dangerous situations.
Dealing With Abusive or Otherwise Suggestive Harassment
If you encounter any sort of abuse here on deviantART (via notes, chat, the forums, someone acquiring your IM info from this site etc), do not respond to it. This only encourages the person on the other end to continue their poor behavior. If you think someone is being abusive, threatening, sexually inappropriate or intimidating in nature, report it immediately via the +helpdesk. The user will be dealt with and there will be consequences for their actions as we do not take inappropriate behavior lightly. If this happens off of deviantART, inform your parents right away so that they can contact the proper authorities.
Your User Page is a Public Space
Be aware that your user page is public. It can be viewed regardless of whether or not you are logged in, and any information you put on it, such as your real name or location can be viewed by anybody. For your safety, it is best to not put personal identifying material on you page or your actual IM information on your page as well. If people would like that information they will ask for it directly and you can decide who has access to chat with you.
What You Can Do as a User of deviantART
Do Not Falsify Your Age
If you wish to make your age public, do not falsify how old you are. If you change your age to appear older in order to post nude or sexually explicit photos of yourself, we will find out and you will be reprimanded. As artistic as this behavior may be and as sophisticated or advanced you may think it is to appear older, this is exactly the kind of activity on your part that can lead to very unfortunate consequences.
Do Not Encourage Others to Falsify Their Age
Under no circumstances should you encourage someone else to falsify their age for any purposes, especially in regards to posting photos containing underage nudity. This will result in immediate banning and a full report to the police and FBI (no joke).
Report Harassment, Threats, Sexual Harassment
If you feel threatened in any way on deviantART, be it of a physical or sexual manner (or if you are being harassed), report it immediately to the +helpdesk so that we can deal with it. This also applies to cases of harassment that you witness taking place. Please do not attempt to handle anything yourself or make it into a public issue. Wrongful accusations can be very damaging and have legal repercussions if you are in fact mistaken about the issue.
Suspicious Behavior or Inquiries
If you are receiving inquiries from someone you dont know, barely know, or someone you feel is being inappropriate (in any way) regarding personal information, age, your appearance, your physical location, etc. report it to the +helpdesk immediately.
If you are contacted in regards to being asked to model nude or pose nude for any art work or photography and you are under the age of 18, the answer is always NO. Beyond that, if you are approached and asked to be a model at all you should ask for credentials, proof of work, a business card, company information, a portfolio or some form of identification verification in the form of photo ID. It is the burden of the photographer to prove the legitimacy of their request. Also, they need to provide model release forms which require verification of your age and identity via photo identification.
If someone contacts you and is unwilling to provide any of this information, then steer clear of them. The stance of I am just starting out so I dont have any of that is not good enough (everybody has an ID and every photographer will have a portfolio, no matter how big or small). Also, make sure that friends and family are aware of any shoots that you schedule. Tell them where it is, what time it is scheduled for, along with the name and phone number of the photographer. For the first meeting, we suggest you take a friend.
Be Mindful of What You Say
While you may know someone fairly well and you have a certain understanding of their sense of humor, others may not. One of the downsides of posting things publicly and via the use of text is that what may be intended as sarcasm often times falls flat when read off a monitor. What may seem humorous to you and your friends could be grossly misinterpreted by someone else and you may find yourself being reported for something you never intended.
deviantARTs Stance on These Issues
At deviantART, your safety, comfort and enjoyment here are of the utmost importance to us. We take harassment of any kind very seriously and we will promptly report things of this nature to the proper law enforcement agency depending on the specific case. We have always had an open door policy towards law enforcement to the extent of aiding in the investigation and prosecution of claims of harassment or actual injury and towards doing everything appropriate in providing authorized law enforcement agencies with evidence and information available through deviantART with regard to the alleged criminal conduct.
To clarify the existing policy and further add to it, we would like to make the following very clear:
If you are found uploading inappropriate photos or other inappropriate photo-based images of anyone under the age of 18, you will be promptly banned from the site and reported to the authorities.
If you are found falsifying age information so that you can submit inappropriate photos of people underage, you will be promptly banned and reported to the authorities.
If you are found falsifying your own age to post such work, you will be promptly banned and reported.
If you are found to be engaged in harassment or other threatening behavior, you will be promptly banned and reported to the authorities.
If you are found encouraging others to falsify their information to post inappropriate underage material, you will be promptly banned and reported to the authorities.
In general, if you are found committing or soliciting any illegal act, or if you engage in any form of intimidation or any act of coercion on deviantART, you will be banned and reported to the authorities.
As stated, we take these matters very seriously and will do all that we can to protect our user. We also urge you again to protect yourself by following these guidelines and using simple common sense.
For more information and resources check out the following;
What Can You Do as An Artist?
Now, given that this is an art community, what better way for you to help spread this message and promote these tips and advice than via your artwork?
We have added a category to Current Events for this purpose. devSAFE.
This category is for those of you who wish to create works that relate to these issues; want to get the message out there, to communicate your feelings on this subject, or to address your own concerns or views on it.
This is not a contest, but merely a place for you to show the world and the art community that you care and have something to say. Who knows, maybe the art you create may help someone out someday. The only request we have for submitting to this category is to include a link to this article to spread the message.
To submit images to this submit them as a normal deviation and choose the Current Events Sub Category followed by devSAFE 2006 as your final category. You may submit any style of art to this category as well, written, visual, traditonal, digital, anyhting you want.
The gallery will be viewable here. We look forward to seeing what you are inspired to do with this topic.