Using the internet has become part of everyday life. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp are popular as places for people to chat to friends and meet new people with similar interests to you. However, the anonymity of online, or the potential it gives to conceal your real identity, means you can’t always be sure who you’re speaking to.
What are you telling everyone?
You might not realise it, but your social network profile probably contains a huge amount of personal information, even if you don’t think you have published it yourself. For example, hiding your date of birth is a worthless precaution if several of your friends post “Happy Birthday” on your ‘wall’ on the same date each year.
By looking at photographs, wall posts, status updates, ‘Tweets’, and information shared by third-party apps (such as fitness trackers), it is very easy to find out:
- Your address;
- Your date of birth;
- Your place of work
- Your school or college;
- Your children’s school or college;
- What your children look like;
- The names and other details of family members;
- When you are going to be on holiday;
- Where you usually go to socialise;
- What route you take if you often go walking or running;
When someone asks to be a ‘friend’ or ‘associate’ on the social network, ask yourself: Would you be happy to write all of this information down and hand it to that person? Do you know them and trust them well enough? Because if not – you should NOT accept their request.
You should also pay attention to the terms and conditions you agree to when signing up to a social network. Most will include a clause that by uploading any images to your profile, you are giving them permission to use or redistribute the images according to their own marketing requirements. Make sure you’re happy with this arrangement before agreeing to it.
Offers and Competitions
- Many businesses use the power of social networks to advertise, and often run competitions that require entrants to ‘like’ or ‘share’ an image or a post. Not all of these competitions are genuine, and it can be hard to distinguish between real and fake.
- As a general rule, if something appears too good to be true, it probably is.
- Pages with spelling mistakes or very little history are likely to be fake and, never, ever click on a link that takes you to a site outside the social network in order to enter a competition. Such links will almost certainly lead to malware finding its way onto your computer.
- Online gaming can be great for children especially during the holidays, but it's easy for it to become all-consuming and for parents to lose track of what their children are up to.
- Recent research shows that many parents have concerns about online gaming and are worried that their child has disclosed personal information, spoken to strangers or been bullied whilst online
- Get Safe Online has some fantastic advice on how to minimise the risks associated with online gaming - check out their website.