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Tips to reduce anti-social media

After what we’ve been through it’s OK to feel differently, and it is more important than ever to look after our physical and mental wellbeing. This week we’ve looked to our cyber experts to pull together the most common advice to prevent our online platforms becoming anti-social media.

The use of social media has been a life line for many for keeping in touch with friends, family and businesses during a year of restrictions and some rapid changes. While it is a useful tool it can be misused and there is a darker side to social media.

With our social media accounts it’s not always just our friends and family that see content, but strangers, acquaintances and others we wouldn’t normally engage with. On open forums, groups and even in private messages we can receive unwelcome and unwarranted comments that can escalate and become a big problem. Children and young people may be particularly vulnerable to cyber bullying, with limited contact with their peers over the last year, more and more of them are living their lives on-line.

There are steps you can take if you find yourself victim to cyber bullying or trolling. These include:

  • Not responding to comments
  • Blocking the individual
  • Changing your privacy settings
  • Speaking to a family member or friend to talk through how the comments made you feel
  • Reporting the website being used

The Centre for Countering Digital Hate have also produced a useful guide ‘Don’t Feed the Trolls’ on how to deal with digital hate. You can download a copy here.

Over the last couple of years there have been some high-profile suicides where online bullying and trolling have been cited as a factor. This has opened a conversation about how we behave online – with information, news, adverts and other content available continually and instantly, we are also able to respond and comment immediately without perhaps giving full thought and reflection to what we’re saying. 

When posting we should all be considerate about the message we’re putting out and how this could be perceived by others. There is a fine line between criticism of someone’s actions or behaviour and a personal attack on an individual. Attacks should no more be tolerated in the virtual world they would be in the actual world.

In order to avoid being drawn into any escalation into behaviour which is inappropriate. We can all ask ourselves some simple questions:-

  • Would you say or do this in front of your partner, children or parents?
  • Would you say or do this in front of a colleague of the same sex?
  • Would you like to see your behaviour reported in the local press?
  • Would you like a member of your family to be on the receiving end of behaviour the same as yours?

Recruiters are increasingly doing social media searches for candidates and inappropriate posts have been seen to come back to haunt users years later. Alexi McCammond, the recently appointed editor of Teen Vogue was forced to resign after racist and homophobic tweets made over a decade ago came to light. We also need to be careful about what we re-tweet. In 2020 Rebecca Long-Bailey was sacked from the shadow cabinet after re-tweeting an anti-Semitic post. If you are in doubt about your current on-line footprint try these steps:

  1. Check your privacy settings on your social media accounts, particularly Facebook. Go to http://facebook.com/settings to find out more.
  2. Google yourself. What do you find? Is it representative of you and your professional reputation?
  3. Always take a moment to ask if the update you’re about to send fits with values and your professional reputation.
  4. Never drink and post! Just put a ban on any updates after you’ve started drinking.
  5. Go back through your tweets. Are they OK? Could they offend? If so, consider starting a new Twitter account that you use professionally and anonymise your personal account. Alternatively, you could delete any tweets you think might be too risky
  6. Don’t lose your personality online. Just remember that you don’t just represent yourself, your behaviour can reflect on your workplace, family or friends.

Further resources and links

Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance – Knowledge Base
IOM Police and ThinkUKnow online safety advice
Our Safer Schools
BBC – bullying and trolling
BBC Bitesize – what to do about trolling

With some simple steps and a little thought we can all enjoy the benefits that social media brings. For more wellbeing tools and links you can visit areyouok.gov.im or if you would like to speak to someone call the Community Support and Information Line team on 686262.