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Cheshire police and Get Safe Online launch social media safety campaign

Awareness campaign deliberately coincides with summer holiday season

Teenage girl using a mobile phone(Image: Chris Radburn/PA Wire)

Cheshire Constabulary and Get Safe Online have launched a new safe social media campaign designed to help you use your social media accounts more safely.

The campaign includes a short guide with simple safety tips on how you can protect yourself from accidentally disclosing private information to cyber criminals, what is and isn’t appropriate to post online, right through to age limits for kids on popular sites.

The launch deliberately coincides with summer holiday season, a time when many of us are sharing our experiences and pictures on social media accounts. In doing so, we often inadvertently reveal the location of our children, and also that our homes are empty while we are away.

Detective Sergeant Brian Faint, of the force’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “It is really imperative that you stay safe online when using your social media accounts to protect you, your family and your personal property.

“Criminals thrive on obtaining your personal information from these accounts to commit fraud, cyber and cyber enabled crime.

“Without your information they cannot commit this crime, therefore I urge you to think before you post any social media messages and ask yourself who will access this information.”

Chief executive of Get Safe Online Tony Neate said: “Social media is one of the best ways to keep in touch with friends and family and share photos and videos. As peak summer holiday season kicks in, who doesn’t like to show off when they’re lying on the beach on a Monday morning instead of heading into the office? There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do all of those things on your social media accounts as long as you don’t put yourself or private information at risk.

“If your social media accounts are open for anyone to see and you post that you’re heading off to Greece for a week, you’re effectively putting an advert out online letting people know your home is going to be empty for a week too. However, social media has become the tool of choice for most burglars. But our tips aren’t designed to frighten you or put you off using social media … just how to have a safe and enjoyable online experience.”

Cheshire police and Get Safe Online’s Safe Social Media Tips:

  • Check your settings: Check your privacy settings to make sure only those you want to can see your profile and posts. Even then, you can’t be sure that your information won’t be shared.
  • Too much info: A lot of the information that many people put online can be used by fraudsters. For example, don’t use your real date of birth in your profile.
  • To click or not to click?: On Facebook, Twitter and many other social media sites, you’ll often get invited to click on a link to a freebie, special offer or charity appeal ... or to view sensational content. Be very careful what you click on as it may take you to a fraudulent website.
  • What goes online, stays online: It’s easy to post or share a comment or photo, but probably impossible to delete or control what happens to it next. That includes abusive or embarrassing comments, sexy pictures and things you might regret saying the next morning. Your employer might see it too! Think before you post or send.
  • Abuse, bullying, stalking: Report any kind of abuse you encounter on social media, and unfriend the perpetrator. And, of course, doing the same thing to others is a no-no ... it’s harmful and unnecessary.
  • Protecting your kids: Posting pictures of your kids? Turn off geolocation in your settings so they can’t be tracked. If they use Snap Maps, tell them to switch on Ghost Mode to keep their location hidden. Talk to them about who they accept as friends, and online stranger danger. That’s good advice for big kids (adults) too. And remember that most social media sites have lower age limits.
  • Away from home?: It’s great posting updates or pics about what a fantastic holiday you’re having, but that could also be telling everyone that your home is unoccupied. Some insurance companies are rejecting burglary claims for this very reason. Again, think before you post or send.
  • Be your own person: Urging someone else on social media to do or post something irresponsible or harmful may be some people’s idea of fun. Don’t get swayed to do something you know is wrong, and don’t do it to others.
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