The Virtual Verandah
In 1999 Dads in Distress ran it's first support group on a verandah in Coffs Harbour. Since then, we have created support groups for Mums as well as Grandparents, the challenge has been supporting everyone that reaches out to us, regardless of where they are.
Today, that's harder still; how to reach support during a time of pandemic and enforced social distancing?
We've risen to the challenge. We're going back to the verandah. Welcome, to our new, Virtual Verandah.
One for separated mums, another for separated dads. We've even launched one to support the supporters; grandparents, siblings, new partners and friends.
You've been sent an invite and have clicked on it. What happens next?
For security reasons, we need to check you are one of our MIDs.
We do this by one of our admins messaging you privately.
- They will request certain information that is known only to you and us.
- Its is not anything private so no need to worry about ‘phishing’ but it is knowledge that only you would know that shows us that you are who you say you are.
- As soon as you’ve provided the requested info, and we’ve had the chance to check it, we’ll get you confirmed as a member with full access to the Mum’s Virtual Veranda.
Please know that we take the safety and security of our dads extremely seriously. The above process was the simplest way to identify you such that we have genuine MIDs in the respective group.
Unique security measures as a member of the Virtual Veranda:
- Option to take part in our chat groups with 100% anonymity.
- Auto deleting posts / comments (by default).
- Restrictions on printing, forwarding and screenshots.
- Advanced pre-entry screening and moderation.
- Genuinely free (i.e. not paid for though sale of your info and content).
- Operated by a national registered charity with high levels of governance.
- Use of software/app that is open source, audited safe, protected by biometric login.
Does any of the above matter?
Some mums just prefer to use their usual social media groups and ‘apparently safe’ messaging apps. Understand that in the world of free apps, it is generally true to say that there is no such thing as a free lunch. You are either paying for your lunch in cash or, you are lunch. Over 95% of social media and free messaging apps sell your info and content meaning, you are lunch. Your information is open to the highest bidder and many times is openly and legitimately on sale to any party that wishes to buy it. Surprised? You shouldn’t be, its pretty much always in the terms you agreed to as a condition of accessing the free service. The key point here is who owns your content – you, or the platform provider. For all major ‘well known’ platforms, the content you produce (your freely provided information, comments, posts, images etc.) become the property of the platform the moment you post them; the it becomes information they sell. If law enforcement, law firms or private investigators buy it, and it appears in a court room, that’s perfectly legal. Its not your content restrict because you gave it to the ‘free’ provider.
The Virtual Veranda is also operated via a free platform but the funding model of that platform is transparent, open source, and is backed by terms that mean that content is not owned by the platform. This makes it impossible for the platform to sell your data. And finally, in answer to the questions does this all matter, yes, over the last decade we have seen many cases of Mums having their social media and messaging content produced in Family Court to their shock and detriment. Any group that you engage with using typical social media and messaging platforms places you are real risk. Sadly, too many parents find out the hard way what that means only after its too late.
How do I know if I’m in a real MIDs Virtual Veranda Group?
The names MIDs, or Mums in Distress, are often used by imposters, be that well meaning or otherwise. Be aware, MIDs only operates on one safe platform for Dads and that platform is based on the ‘Telegram’ infrastructure and invites can only be obtained by attending one of our support groups. Anything other than our official VV groups on Telegram, is fake, unauthorized and is probably putting placing you at risk.
If you have any questions or concerns:
- Call our helpline on 1300 853 437,
- Ask any MIDs facilitator,
- Email the Virtual Veranda team on email@example.com.