Social media

Responsible social media use  

Privacy is an important topic when it comes to social media, because there are many risks attached.

The biggest danger is identity fraud. Identity fraud means someone acquires the personal details of another person, and subsequently assumes that person’s identity. Victims of identity fraud are faced with things such as invoices for products they never ordered, unjustified fines or sums of being withdrawn from their bank account. Loans may even be taken out in the victim’s name, which could result in a listing with the Office for Credit Registration. That registration means you can no longer take out a mortgage, and could even lead to creditors coming after you. Someone can assume your identity using just a few personal details. The consequences of identity fraud can be far-reaching and can haunt you for many years.

Protecting your privacy means taking great care of your personal details. On social media there are three main pitfalls:

  • Sharing too much personal information

    When setting up a social media profile, you are often asked for personal information such as address, date of birth and phone number. Providing this type of information can be very dangerous, particularly if the privacy settings have not been correctly set. But even if they have, your account could be hacked. A hacker can see and use all your information. So be on the alert for what information you provide. 

  • Location-based services

    Location-based services (LBS) are apps that use a device’s geographical location and are often used by social media. LBS is one of the most dangerous aspects of social media, as it offers clues to your whereabouts. Using this option, criminals follow people to determine when they are away from home, so that they can break into their house. LBS can be switched off by app.

  • Posting photos

    Posting photos is a popular option on many social media platforms. Although it is fun to share photos with family and friends, it is also risky. The internet makes it easy for others to obtain and manipulate photos to use for other purposes. In that way, your holiday snap may just end up on some racy website. This can be prevented by not allowing the app to give permission to use your photos.  

Tips For responsible and safe use of sociAL MEDIA

You are responsible for protecting yourself online. Here are some practical tips to help you safeguard your privacy:  

  • Use 2-factor or Multi-factor authentication when offered

    These days, it’s not a matter if your password will be breached but when. Even well-known organizations get breached and your information gets in the hands of criminals or the public.

    Have I Been Pwned currently has records from more than 500 sites comprising almost 12 billion accounts. The university checks for breaches involving and addresses. But you can go to the website and register yourself to get warned when one of your other accounts is breached.

    As a precaution you should configure two-factor authentication for all the sites that offer it. On Tripwire you can find step-by-step instructions for a few often-used social media sites.

  • Some information should never be shared

    Social media is all about sharing information online. However, it is advisable never to share certain information. Obvious information not to share is passwords, PINs, citizen service number, bank or credit card information. But sharing seemingly innocent information can have unpleasant consequences too, if it falls into the wrong hands. Take for instance your date of birth, place of birth, your address and private/home phone number (this does not apply to business phone numbers). That information can be used to access other personal information, such as your citizen service number, which can then be used to commit identity fraud. So make sure to check each social media platform to see whether you can adjust your settings to determine who can see certain information (e.g. your date of birth). That option is not given on all platforms. In that case we advise you not to provide information on those platforms. 

  • Prevent the ‘accidental’ sharing of personal information

    Features on social media, such as ‘What’s on your mind?’ on Facebook make it very easy to provide details unwittingly. Be aware of the information you share. It is similar to hanging a note on your front door, informing everyone you are away on holiday. In addition, criminals can collect seemingly innocuous bits of information over time and combine it to get a complete and detailed picture of your life. Keep that in mind when sharing information about your life online. Do not be too specific or make sure that only your friends can see your updates.  

  • Decide for yourself who you share information with

    Do not assume that the standard privacy settings of the social media platform you use are adequate. These have been set to the benefit of the platform, not the users. Study them well, look at the options and adjust where possible.  

  • Be aware of how websites share your data

    Social networks earn money by advertisements targeted at you. This means that they collect information about you. Is this information shared with other parties? Which information is passed onto third parties? Study the social media platform’s privacy policy well and see which settings you can control and/or adjust.

  • Check changes to the privacy and user policy and adjust or readjust the settings

    When a social media platform is sold, its user group is a large and significant part of the sale, including your account and your personal details. The new owner may have different ideas and plans for your information. After an acquisition, the privacy policy may be changed. But an existing owner can also change the conditions in the interim. Be alert to this and always read notifications about changes to privacy and user policy.

  • Verify everyone who wants to join your social network

    Sometimes people will assume another person’s identity online. If you receive a friendship request from someone, always check they are really the person he/she claims to be.

  • Restrict your employment history on LinkedIn

    Not everyone needs to see your entire CV. LinkedIn has the option to make that information visible only to your network.