Social Media

Every day we use dozens of apps, websites and online services which collect and share our personal information.

In this section, you can find out more about how to control your information and stay safe when online so that you can make the most out of what the internet has to offer.

Your safety while online should always be your first priority. Social media companies have a range of security settings on their sites in order to keep you safe while using the social media platform. Keep up to date with their latest features to make sure that you and your personal information are safe online. Always remember to check your settings when you update an app on your phone or tablet. And remember to regularly install updates as they often contain security fixes.

Each different platform has a way to control your privacy settings so that you can choose who can see the information in your profile and content you choose to share. Remember that if something is public anyone can see it; your relatives, your employer, the young people, learners and community members you work with, a newspaper and, of course, cyber criminals.

Have you checked your privacy settings recently?

It’s important to make sure you're aware of who can see what you're doing, saying and sharing on social media. Internet Matters provides information on privacy settings and you'll have the option to do a privacy check-up on their website

Sharing your information on social media

Social media platforms, websites, apps, and games should collect only the information they need to accomplish their purposes. And whatever personal information is collected should be kept private and protected from unauthorised access such as hackers and data brokers snooping for personal information.

  • Before providing personal information, consider if it's really necessary for a user to include details such as their full name and age. Think about what information is being collected about you and if it’s necessary to provide it. Does the platform really need your full name and profile photo? Usually, required information will be indicated by a small star or other symbol next to the box you type in.
  • Personal information or online activity will be used to target advertising.
  • Platform providers should have appropriate data-security policies, including those related to how they store, share and destroy your data.

A good way to think about it is that the security practices we can easily observe on a website give us some insight to the internal practices that we can't see.

  • Find out how secure the site is. Does the URL begin with "https"? The "s" on the end of "http" means there's an extra layer of security on the website. Make sure that "s" is there both before and after you log into the site.
  • Do a password check. Pretend you have forgotten your password. Check the password reset options. If you click the "forgot password" link and the site displays or emails you your existing password, be concerned. This means the site could be storing passwords in a readable format, which someone who hacks the site can get and use.
  • Check sharing settings. If you are creating blogs, sending messages, or creating other shareable content online, make sure the privacy settings are correct. You might be sharing more than you think. You can test this by using the platform’s privacy options which lets you see what it looks like to the public.

And, finally, we know it won’t be fun, but read the privacy policies. What you should look for is how those sites will use and share the information they collect, and how they will they notify you if their policies change.
Thankfully, there's a growing awareness among people about the importance of doing what we can to make sure that we have all the benefits of technology for socialising, shopping and learning, but a right to privacy, too.

Check how well you know your rights online and take a look at a resource created by the Children's Commissioner on understanding Terms and Conditions. 

Ideas

Set a social media agreement & encourage young people to create one with their family, NSPCC have a useful resource to get you started.

Further information

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