Updating your Twitter status? Checking in on Facebook? Sending photos on Snapchat? Replying to Whatsapp messages? Following celebrities on Instagram? The list is endless.
Social media has quickly become a global phenomenon which allows billions of people from around the world to easily keep in touch and share experiences through photographs, videos and even web chats.
However, as we put more and more about our lives online, we can be making ourselves vulnerable to cybercriminals.
Here are Get Safe Online’s top guidelines for enjoying social media safely:
- Do not let peer pressure or what other people are doing on these sites convince you to do something you are not comfortable with;
- Be wary of publishing any identifying information about yourself - either in your profile or in your posts - such as phone numbers, pictures of your home, workplace or school, your address or birthday;
- Pick a user name that does not include any personal information. For example, “joe_glasgow” or “jane_liverpool” would be bad choices.
- Set up a separate email account to register and receive mail from the site. That way if you want to close down your account/page, you can simply stop using that mail account. Setting up a new email account is very simple and quick to do using such providers as Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail or gmail;
- Use strong passwords by including upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols where possible;
- Keep your profile closed and allow only your friends to view your profile;
- Remember, what goes online stays online. Do not say anything or publish pictures that might later cause you or someone else embarrassment;
- Never post comments that are abusive or may cause offence to either individuals or groups of society;
- Be aware of what friends post about you, or reply to your posts, particularly about your personal details and activities;
- Remember that many companies routinely view current or prospective employees’ social networking pages, so be careful about what you say, what pictures you post and your profile;
- Don't post your holiday dates - or family photos while you are away - as social networking sites are a favourite research tool for the modern burglar;
- Learn how to use the site properly. Use the privacy features to restrict strangers’ access to your profile. Be guarded about who you let join your network;
- Be on your guard against phishing scams, including fake friend requests and posts from individuals or companies inviting you to visit other pages or sites;
- If you do get caught up in a scam, make sure you remove any corresponding likes and app permissions from your account;
- Ensure you have effective and updated antivirus/antispyware software and firewall running before you go online.
Visit the UK Safer Internet Centre where you can find a social network safety checklist for Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Ask.fm and Instagram.