Have you looked at your friends lately?

It’s time for an audit!

We don’t mean that literally.  Although good eye contact is important, we mean have you looked at your social media friends lists lately?  Do you remember everyone that’s on there?  Do you know them in real life?  Do you remember how and when you even met?

The internet was different back in the day. In the early days of the internet, when the Millennials were young they had to connect through the phone line.  It was so slow you could barely look at a picture, and then your Mammy would be shouting “get off the internet, I need to call your Aunt Agnes!”.  That’s right.  Everyone had a landline, and the phone was connected to the wall.  Back then you would be told a few key things about the internet:  1) Never use your real name!  2) Never upload a photo of yourself and 3) Never give out your address or any personal details. 

Things have changed a lot over the years.  Facebook came along and insisted you must use your real name.  And it has become the norm since across all social media, with nearly everyone having some kind of online presence. 

Over the years all sorts of people might add you on social media.  Someone you met once at an event, or your friend’s strange cousin from the Midlands. It’s easy to forget who’s on your friends list, and what you might be sharing with people you don’t want to.  They might just lurk and not interact with your posts, but that doesn’t mean they’re not looking.  So make some time to do an audit and think about who you really want to share your online life with.

This week we’ll start with Facebook, and some settings that might help!

Facebook made a few changes a few years ago and now your current cover photo is always public.  Which means anybody in the world can go and have a look.  Be aware that they can also see what you’ve written, and any comments made by your friends.  How much do you think this gives away about you and your life?  Is it something you would be comfortable shouting on public transport?  Could it affect your employment opportunities?  A lot of employers have a sneaky Google to check you out, so this is something to consider as well.  After you update your cover photo again you can change the privacy on the previous one to ‘friends only’ as well. 

When you change your profile picture it is set to public by default.  You can immediately change this to ‘friends only’ after you’ve posted it.  Do this before you get distracted by all of the likes and comments!  People will still be able to see a small version of it if they look at your profile, but they won’t be able to read any of the comments or enlarge it.

Privacy settings per post:  Okay, so sometimes you can’t get away with ignoring that friend request.  Maybe it’s your partner’s Mum, or someone you don’t know that well. You can add these people to different customised lists, so each time you post you can choose what lists to share it with.  You can make some like: ’close friends’, ‘acquaintances’, ‘work people’, ‘friend’s strange cousins’, or whatever else makes sense for you and your life.  Maybe your grandparents don’t want to see those memes, but they want to know what you’re up to.  Consider your audience each time and who you want to see your posts.

Check where you’re logged in!  If you go to your settings, and then go to ‘Security and login’ you can see a list of all of the places and devices that are logged into your account.  Hopefully they’re all of your devices – if not you can log out of all of them and change your password.

Use two-factor authentication.  This setting is also found in ‘Security and login’ section.  You verify your account with your phone number, so each time you log in from a new device you have to approve it from your phone.  So you will know if somebody else has your password and is trying to log in.

Limit past posts.  Facebook also offers a quick way to change the security on all of your past posts.  So over the years if you have shared things to friends of friends or publicly you can change them all with the click of a button.  Found in the ‘privacy’ section of your Facebook settings.

There are also options you can change so that nobody else can see who else you are friends with, that people can only add you , if people can look up your phone number etc.  There are lots of options to make your online world a little bit more personal.  So check what settings suit you, and think about what you’re putting out into the world.

The Letterkenny Youth Information Centre at Donegal Youth Service have a team of experienced staff who offer a range of services and age-appropriate workshops about Internet Safety and Cyberbullying for young people, parents/guardians, and teachers.  For more information please contact us on the details below.

Donegal Youth Service is a countywide youth organisation, striving to meet the needs of young people all over Donegal.  For more information, or to get in contact you can pop in to 16-18 Port Road, Letterkenny, call 074 91 29630, email admin@donegalyouthservice.ie, visit www.donegalyouthservice.ie and stay up to date with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  DYS is a registered charity.  Charity No. CHY 15027.

This interview was originally published in The Leader.  Donegal Youth Service have a column in each issue – available bi-weekly on a Thursday.  Pick up a copy today!  Available countywide.

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LaylaAuthor posts

For any press enquiries please contact layla.kuyper@donegalyouthservice.ie

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