While social media and mobile apps can be a positive way to meet and interact with other families and friends, it is important to understand social media terms, privacy, and safety considerations when you post online. Each social media platform and app will have their own terms and conditions but pay close attention to what they do with your information and who is listed as the “owner” of the photos and information you post. You can find that in the Privacy Settings of all the social media and online apps you use. Some people chose to share images or other content only within their network of “friends” and others do not use social media to share any pictures.
Privacy is important to understand when joining a new social media or digital platform. When you sign up, there is usually a guide and helpful tips about maintaining or managing your privacy settings. Typically, you will have the chance to decide if you want your account to be public or private – meaning, can anyone see your profile and posts or not. Facebook allows for semi-private options – where “friends of friends” are able to see some posts. Facebook asks if you would like your profile to show up on Google and search engine sites. You can also designate who you would want to be able to request to be your friend on Facebook. Note that the privacy setting on stories, photos, and posts on Facebook need to be set and can vary with each post. Here is a closer look at Facebook privacy settings.
Instagram accounts are typically public, for all to see – or private, so someone needs to request permission to see your posts. Would you want your photos to show up on the “Explore” page of Instagram? Would you want your photos to be included in hashtag streams? Both of those require a public account. Learn more about Instagram privacy settings here.
Other social media channels (Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest) also have privacy settings and concerns – specifically around public verses private accounts, location settings, access to your data, etc. Here is an overview about privacy on social media.
While location settings are a fun way to “check-in” to events and places you’ve been, it is important to know that others may be able to see your posts. This can be used positively to meet new people in your area, but there can also be safety concerns since you are tagging where you are located. Many advertisers and organizations are able to use the data from your check-in to target you in advertising campaigns. Ever been served an ad that you were just searching for online? That’s advertising targeting, which is typically harmless, but worth knowing about and understanding what you are comfortable with.
A few things to consider when posting about you and your family online:
- Have I double checked the privacy settings on the post? Am I comfortable allowing certain people to potentially view each post?
- Have I checked my account setting to ensure my username, password, and information are safe?
- Who can see my stuff? Who can contact me? Who can look me up?
- Is it safe for me to tag the location of the photo and the people/pages in the photos?
- Am I comfortable putting this information out to the world (keep in mind even with private accounts, information can be passed)?
- Do I have permission from the people in the photo to post it online? (many parents are not comfortable with their child’s photo being posted online, so it is always good to ask).
- Is this post harmful to another person? Will this photo impact my child’s future opportunities or embarrass them down the road?
- Does the image and message best represent my family and myself?
Resources to Explore:
- Instagram Tips for Parents
- Instagram Safety and Privacy Guide
- Reporting Something Inappropriate on Instagram and Facebook
- Staying Safe Online, National Cyber Security Alliance