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Are you using social media safely and responsibly?

For millions of people in the UK and billions around the planet, using social media is one of the most natural things we do. However, there a number of risks, whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or any of the multitude of other platforms you might use. These risks arise from the actions of others, or things we do ourselves without thinking about them first.

Our online safety experts have put together some practical, easy-to-follow tips to guide you through using social media safely and responsibly.


Consider whether you really need to broadcast what’s going on in your life, or personal information that should really be kept to yourself. Also, consider your kids, other family members and friends: do they really want their pics, activities or information seen by others?

Safe use of features

Get familiar with features like Instagram Stories (where your posts that disappear after 24 hours could be screen grabbed) and Facebook Live (taking care what you stream because it literally is live).

Once it’s online, it’s online

If you’re tempted to post inappropriate comments, compromising pics or other things you might regret, it may be a case of ‘act in haste, repent at leisure’. You never know who might end up seeing it – including a family member or your employer. Think before you post.


Check your privacy settings to make sure only those you want to can see your profile and posts. Even doing this is no guarantee that your information won’t be passed on and seen by others. Review and set geolocation settings on maps, cameras, fitness and other apps to hide your location.


You’ve probably seen links to free or low-cost offers, prize draws, investment opportunities, charity appeals or sensational news in your feed. Ever get those ‘Free £50 supermarket voucher’ offers? Be very careful what you click on, as it may take you to a fraudulent website or one with inappropriate or even extreme content.


Unfortunately, some social media users are subjected to abuse such as insults, trolling or stalking online. Block the perpetrator and report it to the platform and, if appropriate, the police. And, of course, behaving in this way yourself is hurtful to others.


Much of the information in your profile could be seen and used by fraudsters to glean your confidential information. Your date of birth, address or other details could be used for identity fraud, so why reveal them? If you have to state your birthday, use someone else’s.

Holiday posts and pics

Posting updates or pics about what a fun holiday you’re having could also be telling a burglar that your home is unoccupied. Some insurance companies reject burglary claims based on social media activity, so think before you post or send.

Your children

Turn off geolocation in your kids’ app settings – such as social media, maps and cameras – so they can’t be tracked. Talk to them about who they accept as friends (stranger danger). Set limits about how long they spend online. Think about your own use of social media when you’re with them. And remember that most social media sites have lower age limits, for very good reasons.

Being influenced

Anything from dares and challenges to spreading certain ideologies are examples of leading or being led by others to act in a way that could cause harm, upset or even breaking the law. Don’t get swayed to do something you know is wrong, and don’t do it to others.

Fake news

Social media is a popular platform for fake news and fake celebrity profiles. Don’t believe everything you read,and remember that links from these can lead to fraudulent sites.


From cars to festival tickets, villas to trainers … you can find them all advertised on social media. Do all you can to check that ads are genuine, and never pay by direct bank transfer in case they’re not.