How to stay safe on social media

Posted 1 month ago

Sometimes it's good a thing you didn't hit send...

Social media is unavoidable these days. Whether you choose to be on it or not, it affects all of our day-to-day lives and isn't going anywhere anytime soon. A scary opening line we know but it's not all doom and gloom on the web, social media can be an amazing tool that helps people connect (and stay connected), learn about things they would've never come across and share their own stories on a global scale - all from a little screen that fits in your pocket... again, a little scary! But fear not, we are here to help with some simple tips on how you use social media without it using you.

1. Think before you share

Before you hit post, pause and think: “Is this something I’d be okay with everyone knowing?” or "Am I about to share something that could potentially hurt another person?". Remember, once something is online, it’s pretty much out there forever. Even if you delete a post, it can be screenshotted or saved. More importantly, sharing too much personal information, like your address, who you like or don't like, or when you’re on holiday/back home, can set you up for real-world risks.

2. Use privacy settings wisely

Each social media platform has its own set of privacy tools and settings. Spend some time getting to know these settings. Adjust them so that you’re comfortable with who can see your posts, who can tag you, and who can share your content. It’s like making sure you've locked your door and closed your windows - it doesn’t make your house impregnable but it definitely increases your safety.

3. Keep personal info personal

It’s tempting to share milestones or personal achievements online, but consider how much of that info could help someone steal your identity. Be cautious about sharing details like your full birth date, phone number, or any financial information. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t shout it out in a crowded room, maybe don’t share it on social media.

4. Be skeptical

If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. This goes for amazing offers, sudden friend requests from unknown people, or messages asking for personal info. Scammers and hackers often use appealing or emotionally charged content to lure victims. If you get a suspicious link from a friend, it’s worth checking with them through another medium to make sure their account hasn’t been compromised.

5. Secure your accounts

Use strong, unique passwords for your social media accounts and change them regularly. Consider using a password manager to keep track of them all without having to write them down (such as 1Password). Additionally, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible. This adds a layer of security by requiring not only your password but also a code sent to your phone.

6. Connect wisely

It’s fun to meet new people online, but be cautious about connecting with strangers. The person behind a profile isn’t always who they say they are. Limit the amount of personal information you share, even with new friends, until you really get to know and trust them.

7. Regularly review your friends and followers

It’s a good habit to periodically go through your friends and followers lists to make sure you still feel comfortable with everyone who has access to your posts. If someone makes you uneasy, or you can’t remember why you connected in the first place, it might be time to hit unfriend or block.

Social media should be enjoyable, not a source of anxiety. By setting boundaries on what you share and paying attention to your privacy settings, you can protect yourself while still having fun and staying connected!

If you have been affected by issues online you can reach out to ResX for confidential support and advice. We are available to chat to you from 9am-3am Monday to Friday and 5pm–3am Saturday and Sunday on 0115 748 7600.  You can also email us at resx@nottingham.ac.uk and we will answer as soon as we can.