May 14, 2013 at 10:40 AM ET
Just met a really interesting guy or gal? These days, the first thing most people do is turn to social media to find out everything they can about the person. But this can lead to disaster—and quickly get you labeled as a creeper. First date? It's not going to happen if you're sloppy while sleuthing.
When it comes to using social media, consult an expert—also known as a teenager. Our resident teen expert (my daughter Elizabeth) tells TechNewsDaily how to gather information about someone without creeping your crush out.
Instagram has replaced Facebook as the top social network to post photos of your activities, friends and interests. And it's easy to find people on Instagram because searching by real name brings up a person's account even if they use a catchy screen name. But it's easy to slip up.
"Be careful when scrolling through an Instagram profile," 15-year-old Elizabeth said. "It's easy to accidentally double tap [a shortcut to liking a photo], then everyone knows you scrolled all the way down to pictures posted 42 weeks ago." [See also: How to Use Instagram Like a 15-Year-Old Girl]
Liking a photo on Instagram posts your name in a list and sends a notification to the photo's owner.
To see what people are thinking about, head to Twitter. While favoriting a tweet can be a subtle way to show interest, don't go overboard.
"Never favorite all of someone's tweets at once," Elizabeth said. "There is no way those would have popped up without you stalking her, and it's super creepy."
She also cautioned against sending a direct message on Twitter to ask for someone's phone number. And it's not a good idea to get a number from a Facebook profile, either.
"If you save someone's number from their Facebook profile, they will have no idea who you are when you text them and you will look like the ultimate creeper," she said.
Facebook chat is worth a try, Elizabeth said. However, that, too, can be tricky. Facebook chat not only indicates when a person is online, but it also shows that your message has been received.
"If someone doesn't respond to your chats on Facebook and you can see they've read them, don't call them out on it," she said. "Clearly they have no desire to chat with you."
People with iPhones can run into a similar problem when sending an iMessage, which also reveals that a message has been read. The best idea is to turn off this notification on your own device so that senders can't see when you've read their messages.
As for Snapchat, steer clear, Elizabeth said. This disposable, quick-view picture-messaging app is used among friends. If your crush doesn't remember you, your face appearing for a few brief seconds via a snap will likely make the target of your affections uncomfortable. [See also: 15-year-old Girl Explains Snapchat Photo Messaging]
Finally, curb your enthusiasm for adding that new person to all of your social networks. "Try just one, because it's really creepy when every notification is 'Todd' wanting to follow you on Twitter and Instagram, be your friend on Facebook and find you on Path."
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