Social Media Challenge & Safety
Many of us participate in social networking sites online such as Facebook and Twitter. These sites are beneficial in establishing, maintaining and developing friendships and networking. While you can make new friends through social networking sites, you may also be exposed to embarrassing situations and people who have bad intentions, such as hackers, criminals and predators. Another thing to consider is the social work profession and who may be seeking you out on these social network sites. Some situations are fairly cut and dried: for example, a client who sends the social worker a Facebook friend request. Most social workers agree that they would never accept it. But other situations present more room for debate. It is also important for us to consider personal-professional boundaries and our online presence and to be able to look at the challenges that our online presence poses for us. We need to ensure that our social media habits do not violate co-workers/clients privacy, confidentiality or pose a conflict of interest for us professionally.
Some ways to protect yourself:
§ Provide very little demographic and financial information. Use a nick name instead of your full name. Keep your address, date of birth, income level and other information that could be used to steal your identity private.
§ Use different passwords for your financial and work accounts than your social networking accounts. Also if you use pet names as passwords, do not state the pet names in your social networking site.
§ Post only information that you would be ok if aired on the 6 O’clock News. Employers, family, friends, co-workers, clients etc all are able to search these social networking sites. Never post confidential information that you do not want others to access. Even when a post is deleted, it could still be accessed or obtained with the appropriate court orders. These social networking sites (just like businesses) maintain back up copies and also have the ability to retain history of posts, even when deleted by the user.
§ Be selective about who is accepted as a ‘friend’ and given access to your posts. Beware of the criminals or clients that also use social networking sites. Use the ‘Settings’ or “Security”’ options to restrict others access to your information.
§ Read the fine print when completing social networking fun quizzes and activities. Many of these ‘apps’ provide your personal information to others and you give them permission to do so by taking the quiz or playing the game.
§ Before opening attachments or downloading things, think twice. Many can contain viruses or can install applications on your computer that will steal your personal information such as passwords and account numbers.
§ Ensure you have a good anti-virus program that scans for not only viruses, but also spyware.
§ Make sure you have a firewall set to prevent access to your computer that is not authorized
§ Never state where you are employed. Limit use of social networking sites to personal use. Do not write about work issues. Always assume everyone in the world will be able to see what you’re writing even if the site limits your post to your friends exclusively.
§ If you do wish to upload your pictures, make sure they are appropriate. Pictures where you are fooling around or drinking with your friends won’t leave a good impression on your potential hiring employer. If your friends upload such pictures and you have been tagged, request them to take those pictures down or crop you out.
§ These days many employers or clients look at social networking sites when hiring a potential employee or making a deal with new business. In times like today when every other person is on the internet, chances are that you will share your name with somebody else. And that simple deed of sharing a name might cost you your contract or job.
§ If you are being harassed or find inappropriate content, reporting the offenses to the social networking site’s security can help alleviate the issue.
Discuss social networking guidelines and safety with the youth and families we serve.
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