How to be safe on Instagram: a guide to being secure on social media
on 04 Dec, 2019
Social media is an incredible tool on both a personal and professional level, allowing the world to connect on various different platforms. Instagram, in particular, offers users the chance to keep a visual diary of their lives and interests. For brands, it can be a game-changer. Entire careers have been forged that didn’t even exist a decade prior to influencers.
However, like with all cultural explosions, a degree of caution should be exercised which can be all too easy to forget after being acquainted with the platforms for a while. The below guide outlines some easy ways to monitor and safeguard Instagram activity before any offensive content has a chance to appear, or before your safety is compromised.
Public or private?
The first consideration is whether to go public or private. This is something that is dependent on a variety of factors. From an everyday, personal profile stance, privacy is always a good thing to uphold. However, brands and influencers will need to keep accounts open in order to increase their following and successfully implement their chosen social media strategy.
This can become problematic, however, if individuals begin to troll or write hateful messages on posts. In order to minimise this, it is best to do a user ‘cull’ every couple of weeks whereby new followers are audited and then removed or blocked if they are causing issues of any kind.
Another option, if consistent trolling is becoming an issue, is to turn off the comments section. Whilst this isn’t ideal from an engagement point of view, sometimes it is best to cut short this kind of activity for the long-term health and safety of a profile.
Enable two-factor authentication
Instagram has now added an additional authentication step to their sign-in process. It is important to remember that even huge sites, such as Instagram, have been hacked before. Therefore, having a complex password and security question can be the difference between being locked out of an account and being left in peace.
Obviously for brands and influencers, having online activity interfered with or compromised can be absolutely devastating. When influencers or brands are hacked, the hacker often posts malicious messages ‘on behalf’ of the company, deletes followers and posts offensive images. It can be very difficult to regain control and rectify a brand image after this, so preventing its initial occurrence is key.
Check location settings
It is important to note that just by searching for a particular location, any Instagram user can automatically watch all public stories in that area. Not only does this broadcast people’s whereabouts, but for those familiar with a particular area, they could even recognise the specific location where the story was filmed.
From a security point of view, this could present a real issue. Whilst brands may be unaffected, it still applies to influencers and everyday users. Although social media is now considered a career, influencers are already sharing so much information online that others could potentially dig deeper with. Adding a location only adds further fuel to the fire and potentially allows a malicious follower to build a detailed picture of exact everyday movements.
A good way to get around this, whilst still offering a ‘glimpse’ into the life of an influencer, is by staggering posts to appear after the event or occasion has already occurred. This removes vulnerability whilst still providing lifestyle insight.
Be careful with content
A follow on from the above point, many users know they should be careful of their content from an image and reputation point of view. However, how many know that the wrong posts could also be detrimental to safety? There are so many ways to post seemingly insignificant images that could actually be a huge security risk.
From accidentally flashing a glimpse of card details in a bag-contents’ flat lay, to getting in a street sign showing an exact house location and even broadcasting a holiday so that followers know that nobody is home (hello burglary), it is so easy to naively jeopardise privacy.
Even if this isn’t immediately obvious, lots of little slip-ups can paint a picture that is far too intimate and detailed than it should be to the general public.
What goes online stays online
Nothing on Instagram is ever really gone. It is impossible to know who may have screenshotted a particular post at any given time. Everyone realises that posting offensive content can come back to bite them, even if they have deleted it.
However, for influencers who have recently started to grow a profile and gain an audience, older and more personal images can also resurface that are detrimental to overall security for the reasons already listed. This is something that many don’t think about beyond making sure that posts aren’t provocative but staying safe on Instagram is equally important.
Single sign-on is optimal
Using a single sign-on for an account, rather than staying logged in, is another way to stay safe on Instagram. Making the time and effort to log in and out of an account can be the difference between potentially being hacked and remaining secure. Being sent a one-time password to sign in with rather than constantly using the same digits is an important method to avoid being key logged.
If an account is part of a brand or career (e.g. an influencer profile) it is also common sense to use a different password for different accounts, remembering to switch them up every couple of months or so. Whilst this may seem like a big effort, it is a vital security measure. One top tip is to use a random generation of characters rather than a particular phrase or word that hackers could guess.
Don’t be afraid to block and report
In particular, brands and influencers can be scared of upsetting or removing their followers for fear of looking bad and losing the reputation they worked so hard to build. However, no individual should have any qualms about blocking anyone who poses a threat. From the already mentioned hate comments to being tagged in highly offensive or slanderous material, it is important to take a stance on those who can damage a reputation.
Even if it’s just a personal profile, it is never nice to see such nasty material and be associated with it. It is important to report anything that may also be classed as a hate crime.
If you’re still looking for more information, Internet safety leaders Norton have also compiled a useful guide for further social security information.