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Keep safe: social media & online safety

Liezl Hesketh in Life skills 


Playing it safe in a social environment

In a previous article on online safety, we’ve looked at ways to protect your identity and personal information. The human race has never been more connected than what we currently are and social networks are pushing us closer and closer together. Whether your social network of choice is Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus or Snapchat, chances are you’re connected to people that are friends of friends or just acquaintances. Many people are living in a naïve bubble, thinking that what they do online won’t affect their offline lives. Think again.

One afternoon at work Sandra got a call from a bank. “Your loan has been approved and the funds will be in your account in 24 hours,” a teller announced cheerfully. “Loan?” she said, “I have not applied for a loan?” Puzzled silence on the other end of the line… “But you were in the bank this morning filling out the application form,” the teller said. No, Sandra was not at the bank, but a fraudster with an old ID book of hers was – a book she lost at least 5 years before. – Story via First For Women.

Fraudsters don’t necessarily have to get hold of your ID in order assume your identity. With the online world venturing more towards connectivity and transparency, social networks are becoming a hot spot for criminals who are looking for innocent victims.

Keeping your identity safe on social networks

Secure your laptop, PC or mobile device. Before you log in, make sure that your device is password protected when in sleep mode. Never leave your PC or laptop unattended and running while you are away. Always shut down or turn on sleep mode when you’re done working or browsing.

Not everyone is your friend.  If you’re new to social media, the first thing you want to do is build your friend list and network. However, this doesn’t mean that you should accept every friend request from Tom, Dick and Harry. If you don’t know the person, don’t accept their request until you’ve looked at their profile and at least established some kind of connection with them. Even if they are a friend of a friend of a friend, it is not wise to allow them access to your profile, photos, and information if you don’t really know them.

Be wary of links.  Most status updates and tweets contain links to blog posts, websites or images. Don’t click on a link unless you’re 100% sure that you can trust the source. Also, if you see a tweet or status update on your friend’s timeline that’s unlike them, don’t click the link. You never know whether their account has been hacked and by clicking on the link you will give the hackers access to your computer and profile as well.

If it’s old, kill it.  If you haven’t been on a social network in the past year or two, rather delete your profile than simply keeping it for the sake of having a presence on the network. You never know who may gain access to your profile and personal information while you are away. This also applies to social apps and online games that you’ve given access to some areas of your profile. If you’re not using the app or playing the game anymore, revoke access immediately. These are just some of the things you can do to keep yourself and your identity safe. In most instances, trust your gut feeling. If you don’t feel comfortable with the information that a site or person is asking of you, don’t give it. No matter how much you want to be part of the coolest new thing on the web.

Did you know? TheRoomLink requires landlords and renters to give more information about themselves on their profiles than standard classified ads. Why? We want to ensure that you have a clear idea as to whom it is that you’re inviting into your home. Read our safety and security tips for landlords and renters and stay safe.