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How to Use Social Media Safely: Navigating the Digital Landscape

In our interconnected world, social media has become an integral part of our lives, offering a platform to connect with friends, stay updated on news, and share our experiences. However, with the convenience and benefits come responsibilities, especially when it comes to safeguarding your personal information. Let’s explore some essential tips on how to use social media safely.

1. Mastering Privacy Settings Across Platforms

The first step to maintaining a secure online presence is understanding and utilizing the privacy settings offered by social media platforms. Each major platform, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and TikTok, provides specific guidelines on how to tailor your privacy controls. These settings empower you to manage who sees your content and ensure your personal information remains in your hands.

2. Harness the Power of Two-Step Verification (2SV)

Protecting your accounts with a strong password is no longer enough. Two-Step Verification (2SV) is a robust security measure that adds an extra layer of protection. Even if someone gains access to your password, they won’t be able to breach your accounts without the additional verification step. These verifications steps could be a security question with a secret answer, a confirmation message sent to your phone number, or a code sent to you by an official authenticator app. We recommend using the Cyber Aware website, which offers step-by-step guides on implementing 2SV across popular platforms, making it a must-do for anyone serious about online security.

3. Understanding Your Digital Footprint

Your digital footprint is the trail of information you leave online. Exercise caution about what you share, considering who can access it. This can include details such as addresses, names of family members, licence plates on cars, or even seemingly harmless information such as the shape of your house keys. All these details can be used to breach your privacy and leave you vulnerable to fraud. Configure privacy options to restrict access to intended audiences and be mindful of the information you disclose. The CPNI’s Digital Footprint Campaign provides valuable materials to comprehend the impact of your online presence.

4. Spotting and Reporting Fake Accounts

Scammers often create fake accounts to engage in fraudulent activities. Be vigilant and look out for red flags, such as nonsensical names, suspicious account creation dates, or an unusually high number of followers. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and YouTube have reporting mechanisms to help you flag and combat fake accounts. If a friend’s account seems compromised, follow the NCSC’s guidance on recovering hacked accounts.

5. Social Media and Children: The extra steps you must take

While most social media platforms set a minimum age requirement of 13, it’s crucial to recognize that age verification can be easily bypassed. Parents and guardians should familiarize themselves with resources like Thinkuknow, Internet Matters.Org, and NSPCC to ensure their children navigate the online world safely. Research the different controls you can apply to different social media platforms to help keep your children safe. Apps like Youtube offer a kids-only version which limits the content that child users can access.

In conclusion, using social media safely involves a combination of understanding platform-specific privacy settings, embracing security measures like 2SV, and being vigilant against potential threats. By being proactive and informed, you can enjoy the benefits of social media while safeguarding your digital identity. You can stay connected while staying secure!



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