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What does your social media say about you?

Posted on 1st March 2016
PCSO Shevani Raichura 2 Follow my account on Twitter: @DigitalPCSO

Hello again, I hope you’ve had another month of staying safe online.

In last month’s blog post I spoke about my day to day role as a Digital PCSO and how I work to identify emerging cybercrime trends. Well, to give you more of an idea of what’s been happening here in Derbyshire, we have had a few issues reported to us involving social media friend requests.

I have recently spoken with one of our invaluable Safer Neighbourhood officers after they received a small number of reports of people accepting friend requests on social networking sites from strangers.

Once the user accepted the stranger as a friend, they have gone on to have video messaging conversations. During the web chats they then revealed themselves online, only to be blackmailed later.

This had me thinking about how vulnerable we can make ourselves online and what consequences there could be. At what point could this scenario have been stopped and where do you know where to draw the line?

In these particular cases, the issue could have been prevented entirely by the user only accepting friend requests from people that they actually know, along with having their privacy settings adjusted so that their profile could only be viewed by friends.

The privacy settings option is normally found under ‘General settings > Privacy’. Some functions may be limited on smart devices when altering privacy settings so try to use a PC.

It is also worth thinking about what you share on social media sites and what information that says about you. Have you ever uploaded a photo on social media of your new pet? Your first car? Where and when you’re going on holiday? Ever tagged yourself into somewhere when out and about?

Let’s be honest, we’re all human, we’ve all done this at some point or another in our lives so it is unsurprising you may have said yes to one or more of these questions.

In case you didn’t know, all of the above photographs contain little snippets of information about your life which may be picked up by a criminal and used to answer your personal security questions.

For example, as a security question you could be asked: ‘What was the make and model of your first car?’ Or if you’ve mentioned where and when you’re going on holiday, leaving yourself vulnerable to returning to an empty home.

Next time you post something on social media sites please take a moment to consider what information you are really giving away and whether your privacy settings are right.

Going back to the original scenario, only accept friend requests from people who you know outside of the virtual world. Trust your instincts and help protect the information you share online.

If you have any cyber concerns or would like advice on an issue, let me know. It could be our next blog post.

Visit the cyberhub for the latest Protect Yourself Online news, advice on a range of online issues such as social media safety, frauds and cyber bullying, along with upcoming virtual surgeries.

Follow me on Twitter for daily advice and information: @DigitalPCSO

Do you need a quick answer to a general question? Then we recommend you visit the national Ask The Police web site.