Anyone else binge-watching You on Netflix? Us too. Set within a familiar world of social media, the suspense and cliffhangers entice us back after each episode.
The programme addresses ‘first-world problems’ of money, relationships, social media gratification, Instagram vs. reality and online safety. In a world of ‘fake news’ and online personas, how do we really know who or what is real? How do we know what’s going on behind the lens? And more importantly, how do we know we are safe?
Make your accounts private
In the series, You, Beck's social media accounts were set to public. Setting your social media accounts to private is an easy way to manage who can view your profile, photos and information. By making your accounts private, other users will have to send a follow/friend request to you, which you can then accept (or reject).
Don’t post your location, especially if you are on your own. This is something blogger, Scarlett London, wrote about a couple of years ago. Either tag the location afterwards (e.g. once you are home) or don’t tag it at all. Sometimes, the location can be recognisable by landmarks in your photo, so wait until you’re home or have left the area before posting your photo on social media.
Choose a good password
Your pet’s name, your date of birth and ‘password’ are all way too easy. Your password doesn't have to be incredibly long or confusing, but do make sure that it won't be easy to guess. This also goes for your mobile devices and laptops. Use a mixture of lowercase and uppercase letters and numbers. Some sites also allow you to include punctuation or certain symbols within your password.
Great advice about identity theft protection can be found at CIFAS.
What to do if your phone/laptop is lost or stolen
In the series, You, Beck thought that after buying a new phone, her old phone would be disabled. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and your old phone will still contain your personal information, contacts, apps and photos. You’ll need to lock and disable your old device if it's lost or stolen. View the guides below for information on how to lock or erase your device remotely.
What about you?
How much information are you giving away? Will you regret posting this tomorrow, or even in a few years? Once it’s out there, screenshots can be taken and circulated. Whether it’s personal information, controversial comments or intimate photos, someone can save these within a matter of seconds, even if you delete them later.
Don’t forget, employers and recruiters are now starting to check social media accounts when you apply for a job, so don’t post something that could affect your career later on.
If something goes online without your consent, make sure you report it. If it remains online, contact the Revenge Porn Helpline or Professionals Online Safety Helpline as they have experience in taking content down. Even for news articles, you have a right to be forgotten and you can ask for news outlets to remove stories that aren't in the public interest. While employers are within their rights to look for public posts about you online, their response to anything they see has to be proportionate – you have rights, even in the digital world.
What to do when you need help
Whether your device has been stolen, your social media account hacked or you’re concerned for your safety, please contact the police. If you are in immediate danger, call 999. For non-emergency advice and guidance, visit the Suffolk police website and take a look at the section on cyber crime.
If you are worried about your welfare or that of another student, you can also seek impartial advice from our Student Support team.
What about the sharing of sexual images? If you’re watching the Netflix comedy-drama, Sex Education, you might be familiar with an instance where a certain image is shared around the school. Many of the students viewed the image, but did you know that if the sexual image is of a minor, viewing it is actually classed as a sexual offence. Especially if it’s found on your phone, regardless of whether or not you photographed it or shared it. (A minor is classed as anyone under 18).
If someone has shared an intimate image of you, this can be extremely distressing and violating, but please know that there’s help available. The Internet Watch Foundation can remove a photo or video from the internet within 12 seconds of finishing the phone call with you, and offers a completely anonymous service.
We hope our Netflix-inspired online safety tips have been helpful. Safer Internet Day is coming up on 5 February 2019 – follow the hashtag #SID2019 on Twitter for more information on staying safe online or contact our Student Services team if you need any advice or guidance.