Social media

Staying safe on social media

You need to think carefully about how much information you share on social media sites, and who is able to see it. While most people who use social networking sites are well intentioned, there are others out there who may copy, forward or save your information to embarrass you, damage your reputation, or steal your identity. Once something goes online, you have very little chance of deleting it. 

You should consider the following practical tips for staying safe while using social media:

  • always type your social media website address into your browser,
  • never use the same password that you use for your bank or email accounts,
  • have a different password for each social media site, 
  • only accept friend requests from people you know, 
  • avoid clicking on links in ‘friend request’ emails, 
  • be careful about how much information you share online and with whom, and
  • think before you post – how could your post affect you and others, now and into the future. 

If you are being bullied or harassed or have seen abusive or inappropriate content on social media, you can report this to the relevant social media provider. The process for doing this is slightly different for each site:

  • Facebook – You can report abusive content on Facebook by using the Report link that appears near the content itself. Facebook’s How to Report Things page has instructions on how to report abusive content for the different features.
  • Twitter – You can file a report that someone is posting abusive messages by going to Twitter’s forms page. More information on Twitter’s policy on abusive behaviour is available at the How to Report Abusive Behaviour page.
  • LinkedIn – You can report inappropriate content that violates LinkedIn’s Community Guidelines or User Agreement by flagging it directly from the site. Your identity will not be shared if you flag an item. You can also report spam, phishing and other suspicious messages. After reviewing reported items, LinkedIn will take them down if necessary. 
  • YouTube – You can report content that violates YouTube’s Community Guidelines by flagging it. Flagging videos does not take them down straight away, but sends a report back to YouTube staff to review the flagged video. More information on flagging videos is available at YouTube’s Community Guidelines Violations page. To report a case of harassment, privacy or bullying, you can visit YouTube’s Help and Safety Tool page. 
  • Instagram – You can report inappropriate photos, comments, or users that are in violation of Instagram’s Community Guidelines or directly to Instagram with the built-in flagging feature.

You can also report serious cyber-bullying or stalking behaviour to the ACORN if the conduct is intended to make you (or the victim you are reporting on behalf of) feel fearful, uncomfortable, offended or harassed.

There are a number of other sites which provide more information about staying safe on social media:

  • The Easy Guide to Social Networking provides information about the cyber safety features of different social networking sites, search engines and online games. It provides instructions on how to adjust privacy settings as well as site specific advice on how to report cyber-bullying, abuse and inappropriate content to social media providers.
  • ThinkUKnow provides a step-by-step guide to blocking users on social media, as well as other useful tips for staying safe on social media.
  • The Cybersafety Help Button is a free resource which provides cyber safety information for children, parents and teachers. The Help Button is easy to install and use, and can be downloaded onto computers and mobile devices. Users can talk to someone about online issues that are concerning them, report inappropriate online content or behaviour, and learn about good cyber safety practices.
  • The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner leads online safety education for the Federal Government and protects Australian children when they experience cyberbullying by administering a complaints scheme. The Office also deals with complaints about prohibited online content. Read more about the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner, and how children and young people under 18 can report cyberbullying.