Social Networking- Risks and Rewards

Advice given by Facebook

Looking to Login at Well before you do take a moment to read our advice to help you stay safe on Facebook. There are lots of safety and privacy controls on Facebook so always use them.  

Like all social networking websites, Facebook is only as good as the people using it so you might come across things which are upsetting, illegal or offensive in other ways.  

If you're under 13 then Facebook's rules say that under 13 year olds can't use the site and if you're older, Facebook warns parents they should think about supervision. After all, if you join up then you're inviting total strangers into your home!  

If you EVER come across anything on the internet, whether it's on a social networking website or anywhere else, where people are making suggestions to you that make you feel uncomfortable or upset, please tell your parents or another adult.  

CEOP (The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) investigates cases of sex abuse and grooming on the internet. Grooming is where people make friends with you and try to involve you in inappropriate activities. In the UK this behaviour is a criminal offence. You, your parents, or anyone else who is concerned, can report incidents by clicking the red button on the top right hand corner of the CEOP website.  

Although the police can get information from your computer's hard drive, it's helpful if you don't delete anything you think is dodgy until the police have decided whether they need it as evidence.  

Control who sees your profile. You can edit your settings from the privacy page which gives you control over what visitors to your profile see and you can also control who can see your details too.


If you've got a Facebook account and you're getting unwelcome contact or harassment from people you've fallen out with, tell them to stop.

You can also block people by using the "Block People" box on the My Privacy page. If you block someone they can't see your profile and if they search for you then you are invisible.  

You can also control how much people see about you by setting up a "Limited Profile". To do this, go to the "My Privacy Page" after logging on and click on the "Limited Profile Settings" link.  

Choose the profile features you want other people to see and what you want to share, like pictures, and click "Save" to store the new settings. You can also add confirmed friends to the limited profile network by listing their names in the limited profile box.  

Report trouble  

If people don't stop making offensive postings, you can use the "Report" link which is on the Facebook pages to make a complaint. Go to!/help/?safety=parents  

Facebook pledges to investigate the complaint and to remove the content and warn or ban the offender from the site within 24 hours. If you email Facebook you should get a reply within 72 hours telling you what they have done about the problem.  

Close your Facebook account  

To deactivate your Facebook account go to the "settings" tab on the Account page. That will remove your profile and content and nobody will be able to see your details or search for you. But if you decide to reinstate the account later then the whole lot will be restored, including your friends and photos.  

Inappropriate content and suspicious people should always be reported to Facebook and your parents should complain to CEOP too.  

Social networking sites, messaging and online discussions can all be used to bully and make fun of someone. Even if the bullying seems to be coming from someone you don't know, that doesn't mean that you can't stop it happening.  

Being bullied online  

Internet bullying doesn't only happen on social networks like Facebook and YouTube. Cyberbullies can use other ways to upset someone, like sending rude emails or instant messages.  

Here are some examples of how people can be bullied online.  

Hate sites  

In some cases, bullies have built websites that are dedicated to making fun out of someone.  

Some of these sites encourage other people to join the bullying by publishing someone’s personal details or linking to their social network page.

 Abusive messages  

You may be getting nasty and threatening messages from an address that you don't recognise. Bullies often keep their identity a secret by creating accounts with false names.  

Treat email address exactly the same as your home telephone or mobile number. Think carefully before you decide to make it public on a website or a blog or pass it on to anyone.  

It’s safer to only give your email address to close friends or members of your family.  

Chat rooms and discussion forums  

Message boards and chat rooms give you the chance to talk with other people who are interested in the same things as you.  

For example:  

. supporters of the same football team can talk about how their players did in their last match

. fans of a singer or band can talk about new releases

. you can swap tips and help people playing the same video game as you  

Even though most forum members are friendly, you may suddenly find yourself getting nasty comments and abuse. This can be for no reason at all, or because you disagreed with another member’s opinion. If you find yourself being victimised do not reply but save the messages as evidence.  

Some discussion forums allow moderators to block the IP address of a user. This means that the bully will not be able to join the same internet forum with a new username from the same computer.  

Instant messenger  

You may get rude messages on your instant messenger (IM) account from someone. They may be a friend, or a friend of a friend.  

It can be a good idea to only add people you know face to face to your instant messenger. Doing this means that you’re always sure that your IM friends are who they say they are. Even if you accept IM requests from people you only chat with online, it’s easy to block or remove anyone if things get nasty. If you do this you should keep the messages as evidence.  

Advice on protecting yourself online  

There are a few general rules you can follow to protect yourself when you’re using the internet.  

Avoid using your real name as a username in a chat room, on your instant messenger account or as part of your email address.  

Avoid using a photo of yourself as an avatar on a discussion forum.  

If a person or anything that you see or read on the internet makes you feel uncomfortable, tell a parent or someone else you trust. You can also report it to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) or speak to someone at Childline.  

learn how

learn how

learn how 

. Be careful who you trust online and remember that online friends are really strangers. People online, no matter how long you have been talking to them or how friendly they are, may not be who they say they are.  

. Meeting someone you have only been in touch with online can be dangerous. If you feel that you ‘have to’ meet, then for your own safety you must tell your parent or carer and take them with you – at least on the first visit – and meet in a public place in daytime.  

. Stay in charge in chat. Keep your personal information secret when chatting online (name, address, telephone number, mobile number, private email address, picture), even if people ask for this. Although it can be tempting to reveal more than you normally would in online friendships, giving out personal information can make you vulnerable.  

. Check your profile and make sure it doesn’t include any personal information (name, address, telephone number, mobile number, private email address, picture).  

. Get away from an unpleasant situation in a chatroom by logging out (this just takes one click) or by changing your screen name.  

. Think before you answer private messages. It can be harder to end a conversation in a private chat than in a public chat. A private chat may end up being more personal than you like.  

. Use a nickname, not your real name, and a nickname that is not going to attract the wrong type of attention.  

. Look out for your friends and do something if you think that they are at risk.  

. Tell your parent or carer if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried.  

. Learn how to keep/save a copy of the conversation in chat – this may be useful if you want to report something.  

. Learn how to block/ignore people.  

. Check you know how to report something you feel uncomfortable about to the chatroom provider or moderator.  

Are you a part of it?  

Those who take part in online bullying often use a group of friends to target their victims. They can ask others to add a comment to a photo on a blog, or forward something embarrassing onto another group of friends. Sometimes, these people don’t even realise they’re actually bullying someone.  

What forms can it take?  

There are lots of different types of cyberbullying. These are the main ones:  


Sending emails that can be threatening or upsetting. Emails can be sent directly to a single target or to a group of people to encourage them to become part of the bullying. These messages or ‘hate mails’ can include examples of racism, sexism and other types of prejudice.  

If someone sends you a message and you forward or laugh at it, you’re actually adding to the problem.  

Instant messenger and chatrooms  

Sending instant messenger and chatroom messages to friends or direct to a victim. Others can be invited into the bullying conversation, who then become part of it by laughing.  

Social networking sites  

Setting up profiles on social networking sites to make fun of someone. By visiting these pages or contributing to them, you become part of the problem and add to the feelings of unhappiness felt by the victim.  

Mobile phone  

Sending humiliating and abusive text or video messages, as well as photo messages and phone calls over a mobile phone. This includes anonymous text messages over short distances using Bluetooth technology and sharing videos of physical attacks on individuals (happy slapping).  

Interactive gaming  

Games consoles allow players to chat online with anyone they find themselves matched with in a multi-player game. Sometimes cyber bullies abuse other players and use threats. They can also lock victims out of games, spread false rumours about someone or hack into someone’s account.  

Sending viruses  

Some people send viruses or hacking programs to another person that can destroy their computers or delete personal information from their hard drive.  

Abusing personal information  

Many victims of cyberbullying have complained that they have seen personal photos, emails or blog postings posted where others could see them without their permission.  

Social networking sites make it a lot easier for web users to get hold of personal information and photos of people. They can also get hold of someone else’s messaging accounts and chat to people pretending to be the victim.  

. Bullying on social networks

. Internet and email bullying

. Bullying on mobile phones

. Staying safe online  

The effects of cyberbullying 

Even though cyberbullying cannot physically hurt you, it can still leave you feeling mentally vulnerable and very upset. You can also feel scared, lonely and stressed and that there’s no way out.

Escaping cyberbullying can be very difficult. Because anyone can get access to a mobile phone or the internet almost anywhere, it can be tough for those on the receiving end to avoid it, even in the safety of their own home.

Why do cyber bullies do it?

 There’s no simple answer for why some people choose to cause pain to others by bullying them. There are lots of possible reasons, but here are some common ones:  

. it can be simply a case of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time and allowing themselves to be easily intimidated  

. some people who cyberbully think that they won’t get caught if they do it on a mobile phone or on the internet  

. the people who cyberbully are jealous, angry or want to have revenge on someone, often for no reason at all  

. cyberbullies often think that getting their group of friends to laugh at someone makes them look cool or more popular  

. some people also bully others as a form of entertainment or because they are bored and have too much time on their hands  

. many do it for laughs or just to get a reaction