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Staying safe on social media

by  David Dwyer on  08/05/2017

Here Are The Key Factors That Can Help You Stay Safe On Social Media

Social media is great.  We use it to keep in touch with friends around the world, make new friends, even to find jobs and clients.  But it has its darker side and it’s all too easy to be blasé about it.

As well as being a great way to keep in the loop, social media’s a great way to tell criminals your house will be empty for a fortnight while you’re on holiday.  You put up an excited post to tell all your friends you’re off to Benidorm or the Maldives from x date to y date, and come back to find your place has been burgled.  Try and claim on your insurance and you’ll get short shrift.  Same with weddings.  Thieves used to, apparently, read the “hatched, matched and despatched” columns of the papers for news of weddings and funerals.  Now the papers discourage people giving too much detail.  Facebook and Twitter don’t.

The cases of youngsters being “groomed” and abused or abducted that we read about in the papers may be few but they’re none the less devastating, both for the children themselves and for their families.  The grooming mostly happens on social media and in chat rooms.  So do stalking, trolling and other forms of cyber-bullying.  Social media has also been implicated in turning a few normal, family-loving people into extremists and even terrorists.

People have lost jobs or failed to get interviews because of stuff they’ve posted on social media sites.  What you post online stays there, even if you delete the post, it can be found by anyone with the right skills and determination.

Message attachments and photos can contain viruses and spyware links can take you to fraudulent or inappropriate websites, hackers can take over your identity – the risks are high.

So why are we so careless of them?

Partly it’s peer-pressure: all your friends probably assume “it’ll never happen to me”, and it seems geeky, silly or prissy to think differently.  Maybe you really think it won’t happen to me.  But it has happened to a lot of people, so it’s worth taking seriously.

Prevention is better than cure, so make sure there’s as little information about you as possible in the public domain.  Keep your details private, so only your friends can see them.  Don’t use your own name or your house name as a user name, or anything else that could help a criminal identify you.

Don’t write anything or post any photos that could cause trouble for you or anyone else, now or later.  A photo of a falling-down-drunk evening may be funny at the time, but think how you’d feel if it cost a friend a longed-for job in six months’ time.  The same goes for comments and photos about you on friends’ sites: make sure they know in advance that you don’t want them to post anything that could cause you problems.

Be cautious about who you accept as a friend.  All the sites say the same thing: don’t accept friend invitations unless you know the person.  They don’t say it just to cover their backs; it’s sound advice.  Many such invitations are from phishing scams, trying to get access to your private details for their own ends. 

It’s also sensible to have good, up-to-date virus and anti-malware software and a firewall – but that should go without saying, really.

I don’t want to put the dampers on your enjoyment of social media or stop you chatting to your friends online, just to keep you safe while you do it.  All it takes is a few basic precautions and little thought before you post to keep you and your friends secure.  It’s worth that small effort, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Children Safe Online, cyber bullying, Cyber Essentials, Cyber Security, Cyber Security Vulnerabilities, Facebook, Facebook Management, Online Banking, Online Fraud, Parental Control, Security, Social Media Scams, Social Media Tools
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