Online Safety and Social Media 

Online Privacy

Why should you be concerned?

Protecting your privacy online is important. Due to the global nature of the internet, anyone can view information online and it is important that you think about the personal information that you give out. Everything you post online can be made permanent in an instant, just by taking a screenshot, so think about who is looking. 

Social networking sites

Sites such as Facebook, and Twitter are great for keeping in touch with people and for making friends but you also need to be aware that the information you post on these sites might be accessed by other people.

Once information has been posted online, you have very little control over it. It is worth thinking about who you want to be able to read your information or look at your pictures. Remember that potential employers might look you up on the internet – do you really want them to see those embarrassing drunken photos?

Every term we speak to many students who face disciplinary proceedures for things that they have posted online, and these include snapchats, instant messenger and instagram stories, as well as facebook status'. Think about what you say - It is so easy to take a screen shot, so everything you post online you should be happy to be made permanent. This applies to all students, but students that have fitness to practise requirements are of particualr concern. 

Students who have fitness to practise requiremens should make themselfs familiar with the guidelines on the appropriate use of social media. 

When sending any images on snapchat or dating apps, you should think about how your relationship with that person may change. If you send them images of yourself in a sexual or otherwise compromising context, you should consider whether you are you happy for these to be screen shotted and shown to others. 

It is also important to check the privacy settings of the site you are using and make sure you are comfortable with them. You should also check the privacy policy of each site to be confident about how they will handle your information.

Online safety

Be careful about the information you give out online about yourself. People can use small bits of information to build up a profile of you that can be misused. Don’t give out information such as names, addresses, dates of birth unless you are very sure who you are talking to. Make sure you keep your passwords safe as well. Using a web-based email address, such as Gmail or Hotmail can help you keep your contact details more private.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is when a person or a group of people use the internet or mobile phones to harass or bully someone else. Cyberbullying may not harm someone physically, but can cause longlasting psychological damage. Because of the prevalence of new technology, it can be very difficult for victims of cyberbullying to escape from it. It is for this reason you should make sure you are careful when using social media and online platforms.

How do you deal with it?

  • Make a note of times and dates of abusive messages or postings and keep a copy in case you want to take action in the future.
  • Change your username or ID.
  • Change your password and make sure you don’t give it to anybody.
  • Change your mobile phone number and only give it to people you can trust.
  • Contact your mobile phone provider or ISP and report it to them.
  • Block certain people from messaging or emailing you. If you can’t block an email address, you may be able to filter it straight to trash.
  • Don’t respond to messages or emails. It is hard, but ignore them.
  • If you are concerned about your safety, contact the police.

Reporting cyberbullying

Forums and social networking sites will usually have an abuse team and you can report instances of bullying to them. You can also report harassment.

Entering bank details online

When entering your bank details online it's essential you make sure the website is legitimate. If you are using a website you have never used before, make sure you look for reviews and check for telling signs that the webiste may not be as real as it seems.

Although it can be tricky to tell if a website is trustworthy there are some key indicators that you can use to assess them, including:

  • Poorly written content

  • Unrelated images appearing on the site

  • Out of date security certificates

  • Incorrect URL, have you been re-directed elsewhere?

  • Invalid contact details

  • Poor reviews

  • Padlock icon in the corner of the screen to show your data is encrypted. 

Phishing scams are one of the most common tricks used by fraudsters to get hold of banking details.

These cunning ploys work by convincing you to share your bank details with what you think is a legitimate company.

Phishing emails are the preferred tactic, but phishing links or forms on fake websites are becoming more and more common.