Be careful of what you share online

Every time you visit a website, share a photo, or make a comment online, you leave a ‘digital footprint’ of where you’ve been and what you’ve done.  This includes all the information you share or that’s collected about you online and it can be both good and bad, including things that you may be embarrassed about later or it can help people to see your skills and things that you’re proud of.

The university is launching the ‘If you might regret it, forget it’ campaign to encourage you to think carefully about what you post and share online and to raise awareness of the consequences for now and your future.  We also offer support if you have posted something online that you have regretted and need help. 

Things that could be part of your digital footprint include:
  • Posts and photos on social media
  • Comments on posts, things you’ve shared or arguments you’ve been in 
  • Information and data you allow websites, apps and devices to collect or access
  • Voice searches on Alexa or other devices
  • Games you’ve played online
  • Things you’ve bought online 

Your views may change, but your posts are forever

When you share something online it can last forever, and this can be a good thing to mark an achievement or occasion or it can be a bad thing if you may be embarrassed about it later.  Remember, once you post something online, you lose control of it - it can be shared or screenshotted so if you might regret it, forget it.

Some examples of the issues that students at universities have faced include:
  • Sending nude or sexual images to someone they thought was trustworthy who have then threatened to share them with others
  • Posting a rant or inaccurate information that can bring a university or an organisation into disrepute
  • Using abusive language or posting a political outburst
  • Posting videos or images of inappropriate behaviour within an education or workplace setting, for example a university classroom or while on placement
The consequences of this have caused embarrassment for students and can affect your mental health and wellbeing if you worried about who will see this.  In other circumstances, it has led to students being removed from their course, unable to graduate and it has affected their future career and employment prospects.

Online Safety Checklist: 

What can sometimes start out as a bit of fun online or in a private chat with someone who seems trustworthy, can also lead to more serious issues like blackmail, harassment, bullying or even fraud where you could be pressured to pay money or take part in criminal behaviour like money mule schemes
While we support freedom of speech and sharing content online is a fun and creative way to express yourself, we are encouraging you to think carefully about what you post and share online and with others to ensure you don’t face negative consequences now or in the future.   
  • Think before you post - if you might regret it, forget it!  You never know who will see photos, videos or comments you put online so think about how others might react before you post anything.  Even apps like Snapchat can be screenshotted.
  • Check and change your privacy settings. Lots of social media sites will set your account to public by default. Changing your privacy settings lets you control who can see your posts and whether they’ll appear on search engines.
  • Be careful of what posts you comment on or interact with. Your account and posts may be private but if you comment on a post that can be seen publicly online, it can be seen by everyone.
  • Avoid sharing personal information.  This includes private photos, videos, phone numbers, addresses, and financial details with others online.  Even if they seem trustworthy, think before sharing.
  • Use strong, unique passwords for each social media account and enable two-factor authentication.  Never share your passwords with anyone.
  • Be cautious when accepting friend requests or connections from unknown individuals. 
  • Report any suspicious or harmful content to the platform's moderators or authorities.
  • Delete content you don’t want online.  There are lots of ways to delete things about you online. It can help to close or delete old social media accounts you don’t use anymore as well.

How to report and get help

If you are worried about something you have posted, shared, or seen online, you can report it and support and advice is available. 

Online material, messages, hate, crime or bullying can be reported to the police online. If it is a scam, it can also be reported to Action Fraud

At the university we have a Mental Health and Wellbeing team that is dedicated to helping you through a range of issues, including worries or concerns about online behaviour and harassment.  
You can report this via the Report + Support website. If you make a report and give your details, trained advisors will be able to support you, but there is also an option to report anonymously if you need to.  

You can also reach out for help by:
You can also contact security outside of normal opening hours on (+44) 1772 892068. Deaf users please text 07891 679537.

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