Staying safe on social media

Most people use social media to stay connected with friends and have fun. However, there are people who don't play by the same rules, and use it as a platform to offend people or cause them harm.

Don't let these users ruin your experience, but make sure that you do what you can to stay safe.

Simple steps

Set your profiles to private

Think carefully about what you post online and who you want to see it.  Consider setting your profiles to 'friends/followers' only.

Remember anything you post can be shared

Even with strong privacy settings in place, it is important that you come to terms with the fact that what you post online is never really private and can be shared. It is therefore important that you always think before you post.

Recognise the fakes

Not everyone on social media will be who they say they are. There can be young people and adults who pretend to be someone else and could cause you harm.  For example they may want to trick you into sharing private or personal information that they could use against you. It's important that you never meet up with someone you don't know, and that you always let an adult know where you are going and who you are meeting. There have been occasions where children are tricked into meeting adults who then cause them harm. 

Spring clean your contacts

Once you make a friend online, it doesn't have to be permanent. Regularly review and clean up your contacts - particularly anyone who spreads negative content or doesn't make you feel good about yourself. 

Block anyone who bothers you

All social media sites allow you to block people who you don't want accessing your account. It is not permanent and they won't be notified. You may also have the option of muting someone so they don't know you can no longer see their posts. 

Protect your identity

Your phone number, address, bank details and any information that may hint to your personal passwords should never be shared online. Experienced password hackers or phishing sites can piece together your information to gain access to your account, or use your identity to create a new one. Make sure passwords are strong, change them regularly and always keep them private.

Avoid the big risks

One of the hardest things you can go through is having a very private image or video shared with others. Think very hard before sharing anything private or personal as there are no guarantees that this won't get into the wrong hands. If someone really cares about you they will respect your choice not to share personal information, photos or videos. 

Let your friends and family know about your online choices

Other people will never respect your privacy as much as you do. Make sure your friends and family know your preferences about uploading pictures, tagging your location or sharing information you expect to be confidential. This works both ways, so make sure that you respect other people's privacy in the same way.

Watch out for suspicious messages

Messages with a shortened URL alongside a statement such as 'OMG look at this picture of you…' or 'Have you seen what they are saying about you…' are not to be trusted. 

Phishing emails are also a problem. These are fake communications pretending to be a trusted organisation such as Facebook that will try and get you to log in. They can look very convincing, and even have your personal profile info, so only sign into a site through their official page or app. If something looks suspicious, check the email address and put it through a search engine. Malicious senders are usually named and shamed online!

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