Massachusetts Couple Victim of Strange Amazon Scam

In October of 2017, Mike and Kelly Gallivan of Acton, Mass started receiving free mystery packages from Amazon. What started as a fun surprise has turned into something of an annoyance for the couple as these packages have continued to arrive at a rate of one or two a week ever since.

My initial reaction, like many, was BRING ON THE FREE THINGS! The couple was receiving items like phone chargers, USB fans and other cheap items.

Turns out that the two may be unwitting accomplices in a scam in an effort to manipulate buyer reviews on the Amazon web site.

The two have contacted Amazon and learned that all of the orders were paid for by gift card. This method doesn’t require a sender’s name, address or other information.

Here’s how the scam works: A seller trying to prop up a product would set up a phony e-mail account that would be used to establish an Amazon account. Then the seller would purchase merchandise with a gift card – no identifying information there – and send it to a random person, in this case the Gallivans. Then, the phantom seller, who controls the “buyer’s” e-mail account, writes glowing reviews of the product, thus boosting the Amazon ranking of the product.

The sending of the actual items boosts the review’s validity as it earns the marking of “verified review” meaning that Amazon can vouch that this person actually ordered the item in question. Amazon then highlights verified reviews on the product page and gives better ranking to items with more verified reviews.

Sadly, there is no way of knowing how the Gallivans, both retired nurses, fell victim to this scam. The likelihood is that at one point or another they ordered from the perpetrating company and their address was then used to perpetuate this scam.

I encourage online shoppers to make sure they are shopping Amazon to choose items that are fulfilled by Amazon rather than a third-party. You can see if this is the case by taking a look at the page either in the “add to cart” area or under the price in the item description.

This will limit the exposure of your information to third parties.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy Central and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

 

Internet Safety Tips for Holiday Travel

Wow! We are just one week away from Christmas and, if you’re anything like me, you had no idea it was this close! With all the hustle and bustle of the busy holiday season, it’s sometimes easy to forget about keeping ourselves safe in the online world.

Here are a few tips to keep you safe while spending time with your family and friends this holiday season- be it at home or on the go!

Update! Make sure all of your devices’ software is up to date before leaving home. This includes the devices that you are leaving behind. This helps close any holes that hackers could use to crawl through.

Back it up! Travelling can be unpredictable. Create a backup of the data on your laptops and other devices just in case anything happens. I recommend investing in an external hard drive. These days they are relatively inexpensive for a lot of space! I personally use a Western Digital Hard Drive, which you can also purchase for a Mac.

Be Careful with Free Wifi! Think twice before logging in to unsecured, free wi-fi. Sometimes it’s worth the upgrade to pay for a secure connection than risk compromising your information.

Browse Safely! Be sure to use secured wireless connections whenever available. If you are not able to connect to a secure system, avoid doing any personal business (paying bills, logging into bank accounts, other sensitive business) if you’re not sure of the security.

Think Before You Post! It is always so tempting to share your adventures and family fun while visiting for the holidays but it is important to resist. You never know what may accidentally end up public or who might be watching. It’s especially important to make sure not to share high-end gifts that you’ve received as well. It’s the same principal about buying a new TV and leaving the box out at the curb for trash.

Shut Down Your Wireless! Switch off wireless connectivity on phones, tablets, laptops, and other devices when they are not in use. This prevents hackers and criminals from potentially accessing your device on an open network without you even knowing that it happened.

Keep an Eye On Your Devices! While traveling in airport or otherwise, keep track of your devices. If you plug in at the airport, don’t go more than a few feet from your device and don’t let it out of your sight. Consider investing in a portable charger rather than trusting that you’ll be able to keep an eye on a public power outlet. This way you can keep your phone, tablet, etc in your bag. Double check your surroundings before moving to ensure you have everything. Double check before getting on the plane that you haven’t left anything in or around your seat.

Here’s hoping that you and yours have a wonderful holiday season, wherever your travels take you! I look forward to bringing you more in the new year!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Think Twice Before Posting A Photo of Your Ballot

If you haven’t already (by mail-in or early voting) we are all embarking on the most insane election this country has ever witnessed. Regardless of who you are voting for it’s important to realize that taking a photo or selfie of your ballot may land you in a whole lot of trouble and even invalidate your vote.

Perhaps take a moment before you text, tweet, snapchat, instagram, facebook or post your vote anywhere online.

Take a moment to review the law in your state and be sure to get out and vote on November 8th!

Where ballot selfies are allowed

Connecticut. No law bans ballot selfies, according to Patrick Gallahue, a spokesman for Secretary of State Denise Merrill. But election moderators have discretion to prohibit activity “that threatens the orderly process of voting or the privacy of another voter’s ballot.”

District of Columbia. There’s no ban. Election officials discourage people from taking pictures but won’t do anything to stop them, said Tamara Robinson, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Board of Elections.

Hawaii. A law passed this year allows voters to share a digital image of one’s own marked ballot.

Idaho. There’s no law banning them, the secretary of state’s office said.

Indiana. A federal judge last year barred the state from enforcing a new law prohibiting ballot selfies.

Kentucky. Secretary of State spokesman Bradford Queen says state law does not allow people to record the likeness of a voter, but the law does not say whether voters can record their own likeness. Therefore, the secretary of state’s office routinely tells county clerks the law does not prohibit ballot selfies.

Louisiana. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says ballot selfies are allowed in the state, though he’s not a fan of them.

Maine. The secretary of state discourages ballot selfies because there’s a ban on making unauthorized ballot copies, but there’s no law against voters posting photos of their marked ballot.

Michigan. A federal judge on Monday blocked enforcement of a ban on ballot selfies, saying it violates free speech. Lawyers for Secretary of State Ruth Johnson predicted “chaos” at polling places, but the judge on Wednesday denied the state’s request to freeze her order while they appeal.

Minnesota. Allowed as long as they’re not shown to fellow voters at the polling place or capture another person in the photo.

Montana. Law does not specifically prohibit the use of cameras at polling places, but election administrators and judges have broad authority to limit disruptive activity, according to Emily Dean, spokeswoman for the secretary of state. Sharing photos of absentee ballots is also not banned.

Nebraska. Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a bill in April that allows someone to show their marked ballots to others without risking a $100 fine.

New Hampshire. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston last month upheld a decision that a ban was unconstitutional, saying it suppresses a large swath of political speech and there was no evidence to support the state’s concerns.

North Dakota. Photos inside polling places are allowed.

Oregon. All voting is done through mail-in ballots, which voters are free to photograph. A state law prohibiting showing a marked ballot to another person was repealed in 2014, according to Molly Woon, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins.

Rhode Island. The Board of Elections adopted new rules in time for November’s election that allow for selfie-taking inside polling places. The updated regulations allow voters to take photos as long as they don’t show another person’s ballot.

Utah. Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill last year that makes it legal for people to snap pictures of themselves with their ballots. The law makes it a misdemeanor to photograph someone else’s ballot.

Vermont. No rules regarding photos in polling places. Clerks are encouraged to adopt specific rules for their polling places to maintain order, according to Jim Condos, a spokesman for the secretary of state.

Virginia. Attorney General Mark Herring issued a formal opinion last month that says ballot selfies are legal in Virginia. Nothing in Virginia law prohibits voters from taking pictures of themselves, fellow voters or their ballot within the polling place, he said.

Washington state. It’s not against the law in Washington, but a spokesman for Secretary of State Kim Wyman said the office doesn’t recommend it.

Wyoming. No laws against ballot selfies. Law does allow judges of elections to “preserve order at the polls by any necessary and suitable means.”

Where ballot selfies are illegal

Alabama. Not allowed because voters have “a right to cast a ballot in secrecy and in private,” said a spokesman for Secretary of State John Merrill.

Alaska. A state law bans voters from showing their marked ballots, but Division of Elections Director Josie Bahnke says there is no practical way to enforce it.

Colorado. Ballot selfies or any public dissemination of a marked ballot are considered a misdemeanor. A 2016 bill to repeal the ban failed.

Florida. Photographs are not allowed in polling places or of mailed ballots.

Georgia. Law prevents photos of ballots or the screens of electronic voting machines.

Illinois. Banned by a law that considers “knowingly” marking your ballot so that another person can see it is a felony that carries a prison sentence of one to three years.

Kansas. Secretary of state says a selfie showing a picture of the actual ballot violates state law.

Massachusetts. Taking a photo of a completed ballot in a polling location is banned in Massachusetts. But the state’s top election official, Secretary William Galvin, says there’s little the state can do to prevent it. Photos of mailed ballots are also banned.

Mississippi. Photos showing how someone marked their ballot after voting are prohibited.

Nevada. Photos inside polling places are not allowed, except by the media. Photos of mailed ballots are also banned.

New Jersey. Law prohibits voters from showing their ballot to others. A pending legislative measure would allow voters to take photos of their own ballots while in the voting booth and share it on social media.

New Mexico. Law prohibits voters from showing their marked paper ballot “to any person in such a way as to reveal its contents.”

New York. Photos showing a completed ballot or indicating how a person cast their vote are not allowed.

North Carolina. Photographing or otherwise recording a voted official ballot is not allowed.

South Carolina. Law bars voters from allowing their ballots to be seen. A 2012 state attorney general’s opinion says that makes it illegal to reproduce a ballot by cellphone, video camera or iPad.

South Dakota. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs says ballot selfies are not allowed because they can be considered influencing a vote or forcing someone to show proof of voting.

Wisconsin. State law prohibits sharing photos of ballots.

Where ballot selfies’ legality mixed, unclear

Arizona. Bars photography within 75 feet of polling places. But the Legislature changed the law that barred showing photos of completed ballots in 2015 to allow posting of early ballots on social media.

Arkansas. Nothing in state law prohibits taking photos while in a polling place as long as it’s not disruptive or being used for electioneering purposes, but state law on sharing voter choices is unclear.

California. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last month that repeals a 125-year-old law barring voters from showing people their marked ballots. The change will take effect nearly two months after the presidential election, but legislative analysts have found no occasion of the ban being enforced. The author of the bill, in fact, has been sharing constituents’ photos of marked ballots on social media since the law passed.

Delaware. Has a policy against cellphones in voting booths, but elections Commissioner Elaine Manlove said: “I don’t know that we can control what happens behind the curtain.”

Iowa. Law prohibits the use of cameras, cellphones or other electronic devices in voting booths, so Secretary of State Paul Pate has asked voters not to take selfies with ballots. Photos of absentee ballots are OK.

Maryland. Bans electronic devices in a polling place except for the media. And even media members aren’t allowed to photograph a ballot that shows how someone is voting. But photos of mailed ballots are OK.

Missouri. Law prohibits voters from allowing others to see their ballots if the intent is to show how they voted. Secretary of State spokeswoman Stephanie Fleming described ballot selfies as a “gray area” and advises voters to check with local election authorities.

Ohio. Has a longstanding prohibition against voters letting their ballot be seen with the “apparent intention” of letting it be known how they are about to vote. The state elections chief has advised local election boards to consult their own attorneys about how to apply the law. Two Republican lawmakers are sponsoring a bill they say will let voters photograph and make public their marked ballots.

Oklahoma. Officials recommend against it, noting that state law dating back about 40 years suggests it is illegal but outlines no penalties.

Pennsylvania. Law prohibits someone from revealing their ballot “letting it be known how” they’re “about to vote.” But officials recently released guidance on electronic items in polling places that noted the recent court cases that “found a First Amendment right to take ‘ballot selfies.'”

Tennessee. Voters are not allowed to take photos or videos while in polling places. They’re only allowed to use electronic devices for informational purposes to assist during voting, according to Adam Ghassemi, a spokesman for Secretary of State Tre Hargett. The state’s law doesn’t address mail-in ballots.

Texas. Bars photography within 100 feet of polling stations, so selfies are not allowed. Photos of mail-in ballots are OK.

West Virginia. Electronic devices are banned inside voting booths, according to Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. Nothing in the law prohibits photos of mail-in ballots.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Anti-Gay Internet Trolls Are No Match for J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling is easily one of the greatest voices the in world. While she certainly isn’t perfect, she is one that will not hesitate to sound off when she sees something amiss in the world. She is an advocate in every sense of the word and stands for what she believes in. So when a Christian group on Twitter began making homophobic remarks about one of her countrymen, she was having none of that nonsense.

Another person I greatly admire is Olympian Diver Tom Daley. He is not only an amazing athlete but another who stands for what he believes in and inspiration to many.

Following Daley’s early exit from the Rio Olympics UK religious group Christian Voice took to twitter to voice their opinion on the matter:

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Despite instant and insane backlash over the tweet, the group wasn’t fazed and continued on with their anti-gay rant, dragging Daley’s fiancé (screenwriter Dustin Lance Black) into the mix:

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A number of people came rushing to Daley and Black’s defense, most notably J.K. Rowling who shut it all down with her no-nonsense attitude:

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Christian Voice seems to forget that, despite coming in last for the men’s solo 10 metre platform diving, Daley won a Bronze medal during the men’s 10 metre synchronized dive with teammate Dan Goodfellow.

This wasn’t the first time Rowling has shown support and love for the gay community. Following the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Rowling showed her support, not only for the entire community, but for those who were working at the Harry Potter areas of Universal Studios in Florida including my friend Luis Vielma.

Rowling wasn’t the only big name jumping to Daley’s defense. One British politician jumped in with another shut down:

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It wasn’t all negative following the diver’s from the olympics. Fiance Dustin Lance Black voiced his support

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Despite being “heartbroken” by his shock early exit from the competition, the diver hinted to the BBC that he will be returning for another shot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Ellen Catching Heat for “Racist” Twitter Post

We live in a very politically correct world so this story really comes as no surprise.

Everyone’s favorite human being (and voice of the beloved Dory) has cause a bit of a stir by posting the following meme on her twitter account:

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In case you aren’t following the Olympics at all (I’m not) the man in the picture is Usain Bolt who won the men’s 100 metres gold medal with a time of 9.81 seconds. With this win, Bolt became the first athlete to win the event three times at the Olympic Games.

As a follower of Ellen, I saw the tweet the other day on honestly thought nothing of it. I chuckled an moved on with my day.

Other people seemed to have a different interpretation of the meme:

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Not everyone was on board with the idea of racism however and quickly came to the TV host’s defense:

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While the post has seemed to cause friction in the online world, Usain Bolt retweeted the image, finding the humor in it.

Ellen did respond to the onslaught of criticism but as of this posting has not removed the original tweet.

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Many have called for a boycott of the TV host saying that the tweet was in poor taste.

I see this as a great teachable moment to discuss with students as we head back to school. Was the tweet offensive? Is this a good time to reinforce the idea of ‘think before you post’?

What do you think?

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Pokémon Go Update Encourages User Safety

Okay. I’m sure at this point people are getting sick of me talking about Pokémon Go but I honestly can’t get over how much hate the app is getting. Now, I will argue that there are a number of updates I’d still like to see come to the app but if I’m being honest, they all pertain to game play.

So you’re probably thinking, “But Josh, you’re all about safety and clearly this app isn’t safe. Don’t you want to see updates to make it safer?”

Have you not been reading?

I’ve said it time and time again that social networking application and sites as well as these games WANT their users to be safe. They have done everything in their power to help their users be safer but when it comes down to it, there requires a degree of common sense.

In the latest update for the app, Pokémon Go has taken steps to ensure that users are safe.

Now, if you recall from “What Parents Should Know About Pokémon Go” the loading screen for the app features a Gyarados (I literally just learned what it was today when I caught one) with the warning “Remember to stay alert at all times! Stay aware of your surroundings!”

This warning has been there since day one.

Today, they have taken those reminders a step forward. As the app finishes loading, before the user can enter game play, a dialogue window will pop up with a new warning that users have to click on to make go away. Giving them a small reminder of safe game play.

Additionally , another aspect of the app is a speed sensor. As the app requires GPS to be on in order to catch Pokémon and as a result it knows your movement and how fast you are doing it.

Now, walking is a big part of the app as you can earn medals, find new Pokémon, hit the PokéStops and hatch eggs. In all generations of the app there has been a speed sensor and anyone moving faster than 12 MPH don’t receive “credit” for walking and it won’t count towards hatching eggs.screenshot_2016-08-09-21-25-22-1.png

In this latest update, Niantic has taken it a step further. When the app detects you going over a certain MPH (the exact number is unknown to me, I have experimented with it as a passenger and it varies too much to give a good answer).

The game itself won’t deactivate after a certain speed level but the warning is enough to give anyone pause.

Now, at the end of the day, it all comes down to whether or not the user chooses to heed the warnings.

So is Pokémon Go safe for your kids?

Yes.

The app is as safe as the user. I encourage parents to talk to their kids about safely using the app to hunt Pokémon.  Please review my warnings in my previous post “What Parents Should Know.”

I know I come across as defensive on the subject off Pokémon Go and I’m okay with it. Over the past month I’ve had a number of conversations (read: argument) about the safety and security of this app. Many people cite robberies and accidents (please read my post debunking rumors about the app) and others will point me towards news articles citing violence involving the app.

My problem is that a lot of these articles are what is known as “click bait”. They are purposely using words and phrases that will encourage someone to click on the link to earn money from advertisers. They will cite Pokémon Go as a part of the newsworthy event because it’s going to gain more attention.

This drives me insane.

Today, when my app updated, I was walking around Universal Studios playing the game with my friend. The game itself has been a major help to me over the past month. With all that has been going on in my hometown of Orlando and my anxiety disorder, it has been very difficult for me to do the things I love which is going to theme parks.

I don’t do well in crowds as it is but recent events have intensified that. Having the distraction of hunting down Pokémon has been a big help. I was able distracted from the summer crowds and even able to survive a 75 minute wait for a ride (I typically can’t handle more than 15 minutes).

It may not seem like much, but this little game has meant a lot.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Justin Timberlake Encourages All ‘Don’t Waste Your Twenties’

I will admit that I’m not big on award shows especially when it comes to “smaller” ones like the Teen Choice Awards but I have to admit I was curious to check out Justin Timberlake accepting the first ever Teen Choice Decade Award last night. He was awarded the honor for his many achievements in music, movies, television, fashion and philanthropy.

Upon accepting the award, Timberlake delivered an amazing speech aimed at inspiring the younger generation to have respect and compassion for all people.

If you didn’t have a chance to see the awards ceremony which aired Sunday night, I’ve including the text from his acceptance speech below here:

“Thank you, Teen Choice. As a former teen, a while ago, who’s made a few choices along the way, I’m here to tell you that you and your choices matter. In my case, I grew up in Millington, Tennessee, just outside of Memphis, where I was blessed to be raised by parents and a family who taught me some big lessons. They taught me to respect them. They taught me to respect myself and to respect all people on the basis of their character — not where they live, not what they did for a living or the color of their skin. My parents did their best to fill my young mind not with prejudice or hate but with compassion and love. I think it’s part of the reason why to this day I try to live my life working closely with, making music with and spending so much of my time with an amazing group of people: male, female, straight, gay, every walk of life … People who help each other and find a common ground. I was drawn to all these people not because they look like me, but because they think and feel like me. The truth is we are all different, but that does not mean we all don’t want the same thing.

So, message: to all you teens out there, I ask you to not learn from my example, but from the example of all the greats that have come before me. For me, a big moment growing up was when I discovered that there was a music legend living right down the street from me, the Reverend Al Green, who taught the world a lesson that resonates now, I think, more than ever: let’s stay together. I learned from so many music greats: Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Garth Brooks, Stevie Wonder. I even learned a lot from the guy standing next to me onstage [Kobe Bryant] on how to arrive early and stay late — because that’s how you become a champion.

Speaking of great champs, I believe we can all learn from the greatest of all time, a man who grew up just 400 miles down the road from me in Louisville, Kentucky: Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali fought in the ring, but he fought for peace, too. And he became the heavyweight champion of the world because, as we all know, he could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. Our world lost that champ this year, so tonight, I want to share three pieces of his undying wisdom that has helped me and may help you along your journey.

Number one — champ said this: don’t count the days, make the days count. Pretty good. Now you are young, as I once was, but do not think for a moment that what you do doesn’t count. It does. Not just to you, but also to the world and your generation who will someday inherit this world from old-timers like me and Kobe.

Number two, the champ said this: service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth, so be generous, be kind, be fair. It’s not just the right thing to do. It’s the good thing to do. I think we all can agree that with all the tension in the world today that can divide us, we should be part of the solution and not part of the problem. You don’t have to make a difference on a global stage. You can volunteer in your neighborhood or in another neighborhood nearby where people might look a little different from you, and they might teach you a thing or two.

Third, and finally, here’s maybe the greatest thing a teen or anyone in this room and who’s watching on the television at home can learn from the champ … these are words to remember when anyone tries to tell you to give up, tell you to give in because whatever you’re trying to do is impossible. The champ said this: impossible is just a word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing. Greatest quote ever.

So, as a relatively new dad and a former teen, I’m here to say you will make mistakes along the way. You will fall down. I have many times. Even Ali did. But what we do after that fall is how we make history because impossible is nothing. So don’t waste your 20s. They’re gonna be here before you know it, and they will go fast. Be nice to your parents. (I hope my son watches this one day.) They aren’t perfect, either, but they have been through this movie before, and they love you more than you can imagine. So go out, do the impossible and just go on and become the greatest generation yet. Thank you so much.”

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.