Social media is awesome. It allows us to communicate with friends and family, keep-up-to date with current events, connect with public figures, network, express ourselves, pursue our interests and so much more.
Because of this, our social media platforms are as much of a representation of who we are as our physical selves. And while on the whole, they’re a great form of self-expression, you can occasionally run into some pitfalls.
Below we’ve outlined some of the perils of social media and how you can best combat them:
Security and privacy settings
The conversation surrounding social media and privacy is not a new one, and we are constantly told to be mindful of maintaining our personal security when using social media. This can be difficult, particularly when the platform’s security and privacy policies are constantly changing.
Make sure that you regularly check your privacy settings to ensure that your profile is as secure as you’d like it to be. It’s not uncommon for students to find that their profiles are far more public than they’d anticipated.
It’s also worth being selective about the kind of things you post. Geotagging photos with the street you live in and following that up with a “So excited to be going home for Christmas tomorrow!!” tweet is letting the world know that your house will be sitting empty for the next few weeks – Christmas comes early for the opportunistic burglar!
While graduation and your first job might seem a million miles away, it will come round much quicker than you think! And it’s not unheard of for employers to search for the social media accounts of applicants to get a better feel for what they’re about.
In this instance, you can either tailor your social media to represent you in such a way that you’d be happy with employers looking at it; or you need to ensure that you have the adequate privacy settings in place to ensure the levels of privacy that you want.
According to Jobvite, 55% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate based on their social media profile – and 61% of those reconsiderations were negative. Be mindful of your use of profanity, spelling, references to drugs/violence/alcohol or of putting up posts with sexual content or sexualised imagery.
Make sure that you’re aware what will be thrown up with a quick Google of your name or email address, and invest a little time in building up a professional profile on a platform like LinkedIn so that employers will have something great to look at.
We’ve all reached to Twitter or Facebook at some point or another to rant, about noisy neighbours or untidy flatmates. But a bold post made in the heat of the moment or after a few beers could do more damage than good.
If you have to live with these people, go to lectures with them, or see them around your halls, airing your heated opinion online might lead to soured relationships that could put a dampener on your experience for the rest of the year.
The same goes for any problems you may have with your studies; you might want to think twice before venting your frustrations about your lecturer on Twitter or YikYak. Writing that sharply worded post in the heat of the moment might have more severe consequences than you think. And there are often far more productive ways of expressing your feelings on matters like this.
If it’s a problem that needs addressing, mull it over first and then consider talking it through with a programme rep or perhaps your personal tutor, and see if you can come to some resolution. You can also click here for more information.
Bullying and harassment
You should ensure that you are clear on the University’s Bullying and Harassment Policy. It stipulates that:
The University is particularly concerned to eliminate all forms of harassment and bullying as it recognises that such behaviour is unacceptable, discriminatory and, in certain circumstances, also unlawful.
All incidents will be taken seriously and could provide grounds for disciplinary action that may lead to dismissal or expulsion from the University. Furthermore, individuals who harass or bully may be subject to criminal and/or civil prosecution.
Bullying and harassment are behaviours which, if based on a person’s sex, race, disability, religion, age, gender reassignment or sexual orientation, are unlawful.
This policy is as applicable to online behaviour as it is offline. Whilst in your eyes your post or comment might constitute “banter”, everyone’s boundaries are different; and the university takes any allegations of bullying very seriously.
The likes of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Vine, and Periscope to name but a few give us numerous mediums through which to represent ourselves. We hope that these tips will go some way to helping you use it wisely and avoid committing a social media faux pas!