How do I help keep my online social networking profile private?
Social networking has many benefits but, as a teacher or other member of the school workforce, it's important that you do everything you can to ensure that your social networking profile remains private.
Here, you'll find some advice to help you do this.
1: Use passwords and security locks
Choose a password for your social networking profile that no-one will be able to guess. Avoid obvious passwords such as your children's or pet's name or your birthday and use different passwords for different websites. Research shows that 40 per cent of internet users in the UK disclose their passwords to friends and family - make sure you keep yours secret.
If you're using a public or shared computer to access your social networking site, cancel any auto login or ‘remember me' functions and always make sure you log out at the end of your session.
If you're accessing your profile from your mobile, set the phone's PIN code or activate the security lock, if you have one. The booklet you got with your handset should explain how to set this up.
2: Make the most of built-in privacy and safety features
When you register for a social networking account, you'll be asked for certain personal details and should be advised how this information will be used - in other words, what will be public and what will be private on your profile.
If you have a public profile, it can be seen by anyone searching the social networking site and might also be available to people searching for profiles using a search engine, such as Google. On the other hand, a private profile allows only invited friends and members of chosen networks to view your content.
Protect your privacy
Stay in control by using built-in privacy features on your social networking profile.
As a teacher, you might not want your students or other people you don't know well to access your profile (or the profiles of your friends and family).
To help members interact safely with their friends online, many leading social networking sites provide privacy and safety information and tools. You can stay in control by using built-in features such as ‘Add friends' (to allow only chosen people to view your profile) and ‘Ignore' (so you can block unwanted approaches from someone in particular).
Many social networking sites automatically set profiles for children and young people to private but, as an adult, you will need to do this yourself.
You should also review your ‘friends' list regularly and remove anyone you don't want to see your profile.
Finally, talk to your friends and family and ask them not to post or tag photographs of, or information about, you on their social network profiles without getting your permission first. This will help to keep you safe and your information secure.
3: Think before you post
Anything that is publicly available online could be seen by your students and other people so, before you post any information or images, consider whether it could cause you embarrassment or potentially damage your reputation or career.
Even if you have set your social networking profile to private, think twice before posting comments or images that could be misconstrued by anyone in your network.
Use your professional judgement when it comes to your digital space, just as you would in the real world.
4: Report any concerns you have
Don't suffer in silence if you're concerned about content on, or contact made via, a social networking site. Report it to a senior manager and your e-safety co-ordinator first of all.
Many of the leading social networking providers have reporting mechanisms and contact details on their websites so that you can report what has happened easily and quickly. Just look for the ‘Help', ‘Customer Care' or ‘Report Abuse' buttons on the social networking site or use the links provided here on Teachtoday.
Report abuse on your social networking profile
Contact your social networking provider if you think another user is breaking their terms and conditions.
Breaches of a social networking provider's terms and conditions or community guidelines might include: Sending offensive or bullying messages; Posting embarrassing images; Posting inappropriate content; Setting up fake / imposter profiles.
If you believe that the online content or contact is potentially illegal, or constitutes criminal behaviour, you must report it to the police. Many social networking providers will be able to advise you whether to report an incident to your local police or a specialist law enforcement agency.
And where there is evidence of an immediate threat to someone's safety, you should call the emergency services.
Becta has a useful flowchart for responding to e-safety incidents.