Safer Internet Day 2010: Advice for using social networks safely

Today is the international Safer Internet Day 2010, promoting safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones.  This year’s topic: “Think B4 U post!”.  Its creator Insafe explains:

Young people do not always realize that the personal information they post remains online and it can be accessed by anyone (including their parents, teachers, future employers, predators…). Many employers now check their job candidates online. Personal information contained in social networking profiles can be used by unscrupulous individuals for purposes which may include grooming.

Ten tips for your safety

The following ten tips, issued by the German Federal Office for Security in the Information Technology (BSI), should help you to use social networks wisely:

  • Be reluctant with publishing personal information!
  • Inform yourself about the Terms of Use and the Privacy Terms of the social network you’re using!
  • Don’t confirm every friendship request—criminals “collect” friends to harm people!
  • Report “cyber-stalkers,” contacting you permanently via the social network!
  • For every Web application, use a different and secure password, especially if you are registered with multiple social networks!
  • Don’t spread internal information about your employer or your work!
  • Critically check which rights you give the operators of social networks, regarding photos, texts and information uploaded by you!
  • If you receive “doubtful” requests from friends, check out the trustworthiness of the request via other media.
  • Don’t click on links by random—social networks are increasingly used to conduct phishing!
  • Talk with your children about their activities in social networks and inform them of the dangers!

Especially the last item is not always easy to accomplish, as the children’s media competence is often higher than the parents’.