The use of social media platforms has exploded over recent years and it is rare to find anyone without an online presence. Without appropriate safeguards, the nature of social media means that personal information can be accessed by a global audience – including perpetrators of domestic abuse and stalking.
Privacy settings have become a key component of most social media platforms and it is vital they are set to the most secure option for your set of circumstances. Care must be taken when sharing information – especially with ‘friends’ that may have been ‘friended’ without knowing anything about them.
Here are a few tips to immediately consider for your social media accounts.
- Access your social media security and privacy settings to ensure you are not unintentionally sharing information with others that have no right viewing your material. The NCSC provide up-to-date information relating to social media privacy settings.
- Whilst there, change your account passwords if you think they are compromised. Use our advice on passwords to create a fresh and more complicated passphrase.
- Repeat steps 1 & 2 for your email accounts.
- Check all the devices that have been authorised to connect to the platform are yours. Remove any devices or active sessions that you do not recognise. This will ensure that perpetrators cannot access your content with their devices.
- Consider changing your username, e-mail address or telephone number if your current one is compromised and you want a fresh start. Preventing perpetrators from accessing your content is an important step in reducing vulnerability and visibility.
- Consider changing your profile name, profile picture and removing any historic compromised names. Keep personal data (including contact information) at the highest security setting – ‘only me’.
- Review your friends lists and determine if they really are friends and remove those that are not. Take time to approve who follows you and what you get tagged in. Block any friends that may be associated with a perpetrator and keep your friends list private to avoid fake friend requests.
- Review your participation in groups – make sure that member details and activity are not posted publicly. Take care when using platform messaging systems as perpetrators may be able to passively monitor as a member. Consider when making associations with particular groups. For example, if you choose to “like” or “follow” a larger sporting team or event, i.e. a famous football club or the rugby world cup, then this is unlikely to cause any significant issues owing to the scale of the organisation. However, at the other end of the scale, if “like” or “follow” a village fete, or any other event / group within a small community, this may put you at risk as it would be easy to identify that you may be at that event and therefore traceable by any would be person.
- Report abuse incidents to the social media company and / or the police when required.
- Consider undertaking a search of yourself using search engines like Google or Bing. Search for your name, contact numbers and usernames. This will tell you what is publicly available about you, then you can take the steps above to ensure your details are removed from online accounts and the public arena. Consider adding yourself to the closed voters register and deleting any unused accounts and content on the Internet. You have the right to have information held about you removed.