The importance of privacy and safety on social media

On Monday, the Social team held an event for 100 young people who attend Co-op Academies in Greater Manchester. The students were 14 to 16 years old and they’ll soon be leaving school and thinking about what’s next. The aim of the talk was to raise awareness about:

  • social media privacy
  • online safety
  • social media and your career
  • presenting yourself online

Here’s what happened.

Privacy and safety

The focus of my talk was on privacy and safety on social media networks. I warned that if we’re not careful, the range of data we disclose across various social platforms could easily be pieced together and someone with malicious intent they could steal your identity.

The takeaway points were:

  1. Make sure you know who can see your social media interactions. Some networks, like Twitter, are ‘open’ and they’re designed for networking and engaging with people you don’t necessarily know. Facebook and Snapchat are ‘closed’ and reserved for engaging with people you know personally.
  2. Create strong passwords for all your accounts and set up 2-factor authentication on your recovery email accounts. MUO gives decent guidance on this.
  3. Don’t share photos with anyone you don’t trust. Although Snapchat photos appear to ‘disappear’ they can be screen-grabbed and saved. They also exist for a time in Snapchat’s servers and they can be retrieved by the police.

Ian in front of young people with microphone presenting.

Social media and your career

Matt Eyre helps recruit people into Co-op Digital. He shared his tips on how to use social media to find your first, or your next, job. His advice is to:

  1. Have different accounts for personal and professional purposes.
  2. Check your privacy settings on all accounts.
  3. Keep your professional profiles up-to-date.
  4. Be proactive if you’re interested in working at a particular place. Get in touch with them.

Photograph of Matt Eyre reading from prompt sheet in front of students.

How you present yourself online

Choosing how we present ourselves by controlling what we share is really important. It’s about creating an image of ourselves to people we might not have met which can be useful when we’re looking for new jobs. Catherine Storey is our Social media content planning manager at Co-op Digital. She landed her last few jobs, including this one, through her careful management of personal social media accounts.

Here are her tips:

  1. Check who can see which parts of your profile on every social media account you have. It’s ok to show you have a social life, but make sure you know who can see it and the impression you might leave them with.
  2. Your Twitter handle is searchable and it says a lot about you. It’s an online representation of you, your ‘digital name’ if you like. Where possible, your digital name should be the same across each social network which helps build your online identity.
  3. Choose what you engage with carefully. When you tweet; update your status; post a photo; send a video, you expect people to see these things and it’s easy to be mindful of your output. However, when you ‘like’ a tweet, a photo or a status or leave a comment, your engagement is more passive and it’s easier to overlook the fact that these things can reflect on you too.

Photograph of Cat Storey presenting in from of students.

Aaron’s story

To finish, Aaron Omotosho talked about his (paid) work experience at Co-op Digital. Aaron spoke about the time he spent with product and service teams within Co-op Digital and his time after this completing a coding course at Northcoders. We also heard from Jonny Rathbone from Northcoders who spoke encouragingly about the opportunities out there for young people in the digital sector.

photograph of Aaron presenting in front of students.

We hope to hold more events like this in the future. It’s all part of our work to encourage a thriving tech sector in the north-west.

Ian Ferguson
Community manager