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Review: The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy

For the most part online security and privacy issues don’t discriminate. Everyone is at risk and everyone faces threats on the Internet. There are, however, unique issues and concerns that women need to worry about and Violet Blue wrote The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy to address those areas.

Is it sexist? No. It’s reality. Could Blue sell┬ámore books by expanding the audience simply by changing the word “girl’s” to “person’s” in the title? Perhaps. The title aside, most of the content and advice is unisex and male readers will also benefit from reading The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy. The fact of the matter, though, is that women do face unique threats and have to deal with safety and privacy issues that few–if any–men will ever even be aware of, much less concerned about. Violet Blue does an excellent job of describing what those issues are and providing simple, actionable advice to help readers stay safe online.

The Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy
Image credit No Starch Press


Chapter 1 opens with:

Social media, online dating, photo sharing, mobile apps, and more can make a modern girl’s social life a dream–or a nightmare. When you just want to feel connected to friends, family, and romance, the last things you want to deal with are potential dangers like identity theft, online stalking, corporate information sharing, or revenge porn. For many women, getting control of their online privacy is confusing, overwhelming, and stressful.

From there, Blue provides a quick online privacy test you can use to see how much of your personal information is easily accessible on the Internet, and a brief list of eight privacy tips you can start using right away to protect your online identity.

The book is relatively short at just 139 pages (154 including the list of resources at the end of the book), but Blue covers a broad range of topics. She talks about what information is safe to share and which you should protect and the dangers of using the same information across multiple sites or services–using the infamous Mat Honan hack as an example of what can go wrong.

She spends Chapter 4, “Female Trouble”, explaining in more detail why the online safety and privacy are especially important for women. Blue states, “In this chapter , I’ll show you how to take charge of a situation in which your private content has been posted online maliciously or an attacker has otherwise attempted to compromise your reputation.”

There are plenty of books about Internet security and online privacy–and women will benefit from the information in any of those books as well. What makes this book unique, and why I highly recommend it and plan to give copies to my daughters is that Violet Blue approaches the subject from the unique female point of view and shares tips and advice that are directly relevant for female readers.


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