Recently a woman stole photos of babies from Instagram and reposted them, claiming the babies were sick or dead in a bid to extract money from sympathetic social media users.

The woman was sentenced to a two-year criminal behaviour order banning her from using any social media accounts and passing another person's photo off as her own.

It’s not clear how the ban will be enforced given that all she has to do is use a computer which has an IP address that is not being monitored. For instance, she could go to an Internet café or use a computer at a friend’s house.

However, it’s a timely reminder that while social media has widened communications it has also led to a lot less privacy. With this in mind here are some simple reminders of good social media habits:

Check your friends

You can’t help but notice that some people collect social media friends like kids used to collect badges (before social media came along). It could be a status thing but it’s also potentially a dangerous thing.

To stay safe ask yourself the following questions:
  • Before posting do you know who is reading your posts or looking at your photos?
  • Do you personally know all the friends in your social media circle?
  • Are you cautious when you receive friend requests from strangers or do you accept ‘friends’ without thought?
Friending people you don’t know makes it easier for ‘strangers’ to potentially gain sensitive information about you.


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Geo-location

We all do it, sort of, post photos and comments when we’re out and about having fun or kicking back on some sun-soaked beach. It’s one of the attractions of social media.

But hold up a second. When you post location specific images you’re also letting people know you’re not at home, in fact, you might be a thousand miles away. This may be ok if you’ve got family back at your home or a very hungry Doberman hound prowling around.

But if you’ve haven’t and your house is empty you’re letting people know that you’re not around, which is great news for thieves.

If you want to post fun photos why not wait until you get home?

Privacy settings

  • Get up to speed with the privacy settings on your social platform of choice
  • Don’t assume that default privacy settings will keep you safe because they might not
  • Ensure your privacy settings are relatively tight like limiting access to location, workplace, birthday and other private information.

Use strong passwords

  • Think of a strong password like the key to your front door. No one has it except you so strangers can’t get it as long as it isn’t easily copied.
  • Not only should you have strong passwords for your social media accounts but also for your devices.
  • If you use your smartphone to access social media it also needs to be well protected with a unique passcode.  Biometric locks are useful too such as your fingerprint.
  • A strong password should consist of upper and lower case letters as well as symbols and numbers.