Top 10 tips for protecting your reputation online

Tip 1: Make sure your profile is set to private

To manage your privacy on social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you have the option of making your profile either private or publicly accessible. You can check this through the Settings option on your profile and/or accounts.

Tip 2: only accept friend requests from people you know and trust and learn to block offensive users

People aren’t always who they say they are. Before you accept a friend request from someone, ensure that you know who they are offline and that you trust them to protect the personal information you share on your profile. Just because you share a mutual friend, doesn’t mean you actually know the person.

If people harass or threaten you online, you can block them from communicating with you.

Tip 3: Regularly search for yourself online

Regularly search for your name, email addresses and any usernames you operate in online search engines such as google, Bing or Yahoo. You can also look up your name using which brings back many social media results. Also try searching your name using the search functions on Facebook and twitter.

These searches will allow you to identify fake profiles and/or accounts, as well as gain a better understanding of what your digital footprint looks like.

Tip 4: Report fake profiles

Fake accounts or accounts impersonating others on Facebook, twitter and instagram can be reported. Forms can be found on these social media sites which you can complete to report these incidences.

Tip 5: Do not join offensive online groups or ‘like’ offensive online content

Depending on your privacy settings, the groups which you belong to on Facebook can be publicly available information. Your name is then linked with the objectionable content shared on those Facebook groups, which you have no control over.

Tip 6: Do not post inappropriate content online

Think before you post any content online as it is impossible to permanently delete digital content once it has been shared.

Tip 7: Delete unused accounts

If you are no longer using your online accounts, it is best to deactivate or delete them.

Before you delete your accounts:

  • ƒ Type your full name into a search engine such as google or to find out which social media accounts you have. also try searching your email addresses in these search engines. You may have an old Myspace or Bebo profile which you’ve forgotten about, but this could still contain personal information or photos of you.
  • Make sure you know your log-in details for each account. if you’ve forgotten which email address you used to start up the account, have a search in your email accounts for Facebook, Bebo, Myspace and Twitter to see which email account is linked to each profile.
  • If you have forgotten the password to access your social media accounts, follow the directions in the ‘Help’ or ‘Safety’ section of the social media website to find out how to recover a forgotten password.
  • Have a look at the photos on your profile in which you’re tagged. Photos uploaded by friends will still be available after you’ve deleted your account. Contact your friends and ask them to remove these photos and, if they do not take them down, you can report the photo to the site on which it appears.

Facebook and Twitter give you the option of downloading a copy of all the information you have on your profile including photos, comments and your wall posts. Before deleting your account, it’s a good idea to keep a copy of your information for your own records, but also to make sure you don’t lose any of your photos.

Tip 8: Turn off your Bluetooth when not in use and change the name of your device

Bluetooth creates a wireless network between paired devices within a limited range. There are ways in which vulnerabilities in Bluetooth can be exploited, providing access to your address book, calendar, messages, photos and other content on your mobile phone.

To reduce your exposure to this risk, ensure that Bluetooth is disabled or hidden when not in use and that the name of the device is changed to something which doesn’t identify you, or the model of the phone.

Tip 9: Disable geotagging on your mobile device

Geotagging is the process whereby location data is added to an image or other content.

When this geotagged material is shared online, it is possible for others to read the metadata and identify the location where that image was taken.

Steps for disabling geotagging or location services for the camera on your smartphone can be found on page 18 of the AFP’s Booklet.

Tip 10: do not take, accept or forward nude images of someone under the age of 18

Do not generate, accept or forward on any naked images on your phone or online of someone who is under the age of 18 as they may be considered child pornography. By having these images on your phone or computer you could be deemed as having possession of child pornography.

Forwarding them onto others could also be considered to be distribution of child pornography. These are serious criminal offences which can carry gaol terms of up to 15 years. You should report these images to your local police.

A conviction of child pornography-related offences can have serious long term consequences including being placed on a sex offenders’ register and imprisonment.

Taking and distributing explicit images of people over the age of 18 may also constitute criminal offences. it is important to treat these images as you would their body and have their consent for any action you take.

Other pages in this section: