As part of today’s Safer Internet Day, Notts police have revealed that Twitter and Facebook were named in 207 cases investigated by the force last year.
According to the figures the websites featured most predominantly in cases of harassment, and officers hope the statistics will help people keep themselves safer whilst on-line.
In 71 incidents either Twitter or Facebook was used to carry out the offence.
The social media sites were also named in incidents of rape, burglary, bicycle theft, violence and vehicle crime. In roughly a quarter of the cases the victim was under 18.
Samantha Hancock, Manager of Nottinghamshire Police’s Crime Prevention Unit said: “Social media sites are great fun and offer a really easy way to share information and keep in touch with friends and family. However, this information could be used by criminals for a number or reasons, including identity theft, hacking or as a platform for harassment or sexual grooming.
“Remember, you’re sharing in the public domain so always consider what impact a piece of personal information might have. And if someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them, and report it.”
The government has launched a Be Cyberstreetwise campaign, with a range of interactive resources and online videos. Nottinghamshire Police also has a dedicated Cyber Crime page.
Simple tips to protect yourself online will significantly reduce the chances of falling victim to crime enabled by social media.
Privacy and security settings exist for a reason: Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way.
Once posted, always posted: Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see. Recent research found that 70 per cent of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online.
Keep personal information personal: Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes such as stalking.
Consider who you are friends with. You should only accept people who you know well and can trust. Regularly check your friends list and keep it up-to-date.
Disable location settings. This can prevent location details being included on photos. Don’t display your address, telephone number or email address - if you have one, use privacy settings to remove these from public viewing.
Think before commenting on and posting statuses. For example, do you want to advertise the fact that you are going on holiday? Think about your home security. Remember that others can view and share your posts. Make sure you select only the people you wish to view your information, and be aware that your postings may feature on your friends’ newsfeed too.
Monitor your photos and ‘tagging’. Ensure your privacy settings are set so that only your friends can see your photos and ones you’re tagged in.
If you don’t want to be tagged in photos, you can remove your ‘tag’. You can also set your account to approve tagged photos before they appear in your newsfeed.