YUSU have launched an Online Awareness Week initiative to warn students about the dangers of using social networking sites.
The initiative is especially focusing on the problems of identity theft, inappropriate material that may discourage potential employers and plagiarism.
Hayley Fairclough, Vanbrugh Welfare Officer, is heading the campaign. She said: “Online Awareness week hopes to impress upon students the potential dangers associated with their beloved social networking sites… Facebook has many hidden dangers. Even if your profile is private, every application you add essentially gives a third party unlimited access to your personal data. As well as this, 62% of British employers check such sites before hiring candidates, with a quarter having rejected potential employees based on the content found.”
The screen campaign material used by YUSU warns students to restrict access to their Facebook pages to reduce the risk of identity theft or stalking, exercise discretion when posting information and photos to curtail the risk of failed employment opportunities in the future, and refrain from insulting others online. It highlights that student posts on newsgroups and online communities may be in the public domain and archives where they can be found years later. Charlie Leyland, YUSU Academic and Welfare Officer, advised: “Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t consider saying in person: bullying is bullying whatever format and will be taken just as seriously, and never give out passwords.”
It also warns students to ensure that they are aware of copyright laws in order to prevent inadvertent plagiarism, and to get into the habit of using different passwords to make it harder for people to access private information.
Leyland added: “I think it’s a really important issue for students to be aware of as the computer screen can act as a pretty effective buffer for most people giving a real and dangerous false confidence. It’s all too easy to forget how accessible personal details are and the repercussions of lax security can be very serious.”
Fairclough further advised, “Students can adjust their privacy settings to decrease the chances of them being caught out in the same way, whilst making sure that the pictures they’re tagged in and the posts on their walls are things they’d be happy with their Mum seeing. Check out the posters, leaflets and postcards located around campus for more information – a little vigilance now could prevent unfortunate incidents in the future!”
More information about Online Awareness Week can be found at www.yusu.org/onlineawareness