Using social media responsibly

Social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are a part of everyday life. When used well, social media enables us to digitally connect to friends and family, enhance our social profile and marketability for jobs and business, and provides an innovative, two-way communication platform. However, used irresponsibly, social media can cause lasting damage.

What criminal acts can be committed using social media?

  • Identity theft
  • Malicious communications including harassment
  • Sexual exploitation offences

Social engineering

In the context of information technology, social engineering refers to the psychological manipulation of people into performing particular actions or by getting them to disclose sensitive information i.e. personal details.

Your digital footprint

Your digital footprint is the data trail left by interactions in the digital world. Your footprint data is as personal as the information you wish to share. This trail could include:

  • Who you are / where you live
  • Who your family are
  • What your hobbies / interests are
  • Your current physical location

How can you prevent crime using social media?

You can make informed decisions about the ways you are portrayed which will help shape your personal digital footprint:

  • Check social media security setting regularly
  • Only accept ‘friend requests’ and/or ‘follow’ people/groups who you personally know and trust. Block and report any malicious people to the site administrator
  • Keep all personal information to a minimum and do not share any information over social media
  • Google yourself regularly to check what information can be viewed in public webpages
  • Make sure you log out of your session when using social media on public computers
  • Do not open any attachments / links sent from unknown / untrusted sources
  • Do not install anything from a website when asked, unless it can be verified as safe
  • Install anti-virus software and set updates to automatic
  • Ensure your software firewall is turned on. To block attacks, change your account passwords periodically and avoid reusing passwords
  • Visit the safety pages on social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Your responsibility

You can prevent cyber crime from occurring by ensuring you are responsible in using social media.

What counts as irresponsible?

Always apply common sense. If something is hurtful, defamatory, libellous or inappropriate in the physical world, it is online too. Irresponsible behaviour includes:

  • Making derogatory comments about individuals, even as a joke
  • Sharing confidential information about yourself and others
  • Sharing and/or stating sexually explicit, racist or homophobic material or images
  • Deliberately provoking arguments or disruptive behaviour
  • Making allegations about others
  • Accept ‘friend requests’ or following unknown and/or untrusted people, as they are not always who they say they are
  • Opening and/or installing software directly from a unknown or untrusted source or link provided on social media

Consequences of irresponsible behaviour online

Irresponsible online behaviour can make you vulnerable to criminal offences, cyber crime or fraud. Implementing the right prevention and acting in the right way will reduce the likelihood of falling victim to crime.

Visit Get Safe Online for further advice and guidance, and have a look around our Online Safety and Security section.

You can also follow us: @Humberbeat, @HP_Cyber and Facebook