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Waidner-Spahr Library

Social Media: Danger

Dangers of Social Media

The potential dangers associated with misusing social media have been well documented and publicized. Potential online threats - to your reputation, your finances, your safety, and your well-being - are real. In addition to online bullying problems most often associated with middle and high schools, dangers can include phishing scams used to steal your money and destroy your credit, jeopardizing your college and career prospects, mental health issues, identity theft, and even burglaries of unoccupied homes. This page includes cautionary tales about social media and advice for protecting yourself online. Here are some articles to get you started:

Privacy Guidelines from Specific Apps  Facebook:  addresses hacking, abuse, impostor accounts, harassment, spam, and intellectual property violations.  Twitter: addresses account security, phishing, and 3rd-party software.  YouTube: includes a section addressing privacy, objectionable content, and threats of personal harm.  Instagram: includes help hacked and hate accounts, child abuse and health issues such as self-harm and anorexia. Pinterest: instructions for hiding accounts from unwanted viewers and search engines, and how to disable automatic posting to other sites such as Facebook.

 "Yik Yak Icon" Yik Yak: includes Community Guardrails but relies on users to report or downvote (and remove) dangerous of offensive content.  Snapchat: community guidelines with a "safety center" and resources for parents and teachers.  Tumblr: has community guidelines but removes harmful content only after a report and determination of violations.

Videos About Social Media Danger and Protecting Yourself Online

Social Media Manners: Polite Behavior in the Social Media World
(A video from Learning Zone Express)

Click below to view video. Dickinson login may be required.

Social Media Manners: Polite Behavior in the Social Media World


Identity Theft: Scammed
(A film from Magic Lantern Media)
‚ÄčClick below to view video. Dickinson login may be required.

Identity Theft: Scammed

Books About Social Media Dangers

How to Protect Yourself Online

Check out Dickinson's Information Security page, which offers advice on how to protect yourself from phishing, spam, identity theft, and more.  It also provides links to anti-virus software, and explains how to secure your mobile devices.

You may also want to take these preventative measures as recommended by the FBI's document on Social Networking:

  • Always use high security settings on social networking sites, and be very limited in the personal information you share.
  • Monitor what others post about you on their online discussions.
  • Use anti-virus and firewall software. Keep them, your browser, and operating systems patched and updated.
  • Change your passwords periodically, and do not reuse old passwords. Do not use the same password for more than one system or service. 
  • Do not post anything that might embarrass you later, or that you don’t want strangers to know.
  • Verify those you correspond with. It is easy for people to fake identities over the Internet. 
  • Do not automatically download or respond to content in an email. Do not click on links in email messages claiming to be from a social networking site. Instead go to the site directly to retrieve messages. 
  • Only install applications or software that come from trusted, well-known sites. “Free” software may come with malware. Verify what information applications will be able to access prior to enabling them. Once installed, keep it updated. If you no longer use it, delete it. 
  • Disable Global Position System (GPS) encoding. Many apps and digital cameras encode the GPS location of a photo when it is taken. If that photo is uploaded to a site, so are the GPS coordinates, which will let people know that exact location.
  • Avoid accessing your personal accounts from public computers or through public WiFi spots.
  • Monitor your bank statements, balances, and credit reports.
  • Do not share security information such as usernames, passwords, social security numbers, birth dates, credit cards, bank information, salaries, computer network details, clearances, or schedules and travel itineraries.