What is social networking?

• A ‘social network’ is a dedicated website or application that enables users to communicate with each other by posting information, comments, messages and images and videos, to name a few.
• Social networks allow people to create personal profiles and connect with other people who may have similar interests. Profiles include information about people, such as a name, date of birth, interests and ideas. Profiles can be used to create an online identity.
• Social networks can be used to self-promote and build businesses.

Posting pictures and tagging people

• Be considerate of others when posting and interacting. If you message someone and they don’t respond, or if someone messages you and asks that you not post about them, take the hint and move on.
• Don’t post pictures of others without their permission. And if someone asks you to remove a picture or post of them, or to untag them, do it immediately. Isn’t that what you would want if you asked someone the same thing?
• If you have been tagged and do not like the post, ask the person to remove or untag it immediately. If they do not do this, you can unfriend them and report them to the social-networking site. Let an adult know if the issue persists.

Excluding someone

• Exclusion is the act of intentionally singling out a person and leaving them out of an online group, such as chats.
• Purposely excluding someone from a group or blocking them for no reason is not acceptable. Neither is leaving malicious comments about, or harassing, the person being singled out.

Friending or following people

• Don’t feel obligated to respond to messages and friend or follower requests that are annoying or unwanted. You can disallow certain people from communicating with you or reading certain pieces of content you share, and allow access only to those you trust.
• Think before you accept a friend request – just because you have a mutual friend does not mean you know the person.
• Don’t hang out with the wrong crowd online. Resist accepting every friend and follower request that comes your way. If you wouldn’t be friends with a person in the real world, don’t be friends online.
• Having a lot of followers isn’t the status symbol some people make it out to be – it can just increase your risk of victimisation.
• Giving strangers access to your personal information opens you up to all sorts of potential problems. It’s also true, though, that those who are most likely to take advantage of you won’t be complete strangers – they’ll be those you’ve let into your life just a little bit (like allowing them to friend or follow you) and who use your information against you.
• Be selective with who you allow to enter your online world. Go through your friends and followers lists regularly and take the time to delete those you do not fully trust, those you have superficial and largely meaningless friendships with, and those you’re probably never going to talk to again.


• If you are always posting about your meals, trips to the bathroom, social life and the latest viral YouTube video, others are going to think that a: you have way too much time on your hands, b: you have no focus or goals, or c: you are unproductive and cannot possibly contribute meaningfully to anything. Remember that people are not really interested in all of the various random things going on in your life – it’s not all about you.


• Don’t use social media to tell everyone that you are having a party – you could end up with hundreds of uninvited guests and the party could spiral out of control. The police turning up at your door, people getting hurt and your parents finding out through the neighbours will not go down well.


• You probably wouldn’t hand a stranger your daily agenda, so why would you post it all over social media? Criminals use social media to target victims by reading posts that clue them in to where you are (and when you’re not at home). Checking in while away on holiday or posting an update such as ‘#holidaybabe’ or ‘Four more days of beach life’ may be a fun way of letting your friends know what you are up to, but it also lets those with bad intentions know when your home is empty and vulnerable.
• Turn off location sharing and the ability to check in to places. If you need to let your friends know where you are, just text them using your phone rather than sharing it with your entire social network.


• You might want to think carefully before making political or religious declarations that may offend others. Even though these opinions might be legitimate (and you are certainly entitled to them), you need to realise that others are looking at what you post and may judge you accordingly. Plus, social media isn’t the best place to discuss these complicated issues – save your views for personal conversations.
• A funny comment can be easily misinterpreted or taken out of context, resulting in unintended hurt feelings or inaccurate perceptions.

Dealing with nasty online gossip

Whenever you’re in a public online space, never vent or complain, especially about specific people or organisations. People may negatively judge you based on your attitude, even if your complaint has merit.

Keep in mind that employers, schools and others in high places have access to social media, and can still have access to your posts years down the track.

Be careful, too, about complaining in seemingly private environments or sending direct messages to others you think you can trust – you just never know who might eventually see your posts.

Remember that the internet is not anonymous, and what you post can be seen. The audience can be large and it can be difficult to control messages.

Check your digital profile

Search for your name, email address and username on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo to see what comes up. You can also use www.pipl.com, which is designed to show social-media results.