Safety tips for using social media and private messaging apps — stay safe and stay connected.
Check that the settings on your social media accounts keep your personal information private. For more information on the privacy settings for individual social media services or private messenger apps see The eSafety Guide.
Safety tips using social media
Check your privacy settings
Check the privacy settings for each of your accounts, and make sure they are all set to private. The eSafety Guide shows you how to make sure only ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ you have accepted can see your posts, including photos and videos. Be sure to do this for any children’s accounts as well.
Keep personal details such as your address, email address, phone number and birthdate private.
Regularly check your settings
Be aware that updates to software can change your privacy settings, making them more public than you would like. For this reason, it is important to regularly check your privacy settings.
Be mindful of how much you share
Try to avoid posting anything that may affect your reputation or be used against you or your family.
Be careful how much information is in the photos or videos you share. For instance, could someone find out where you are if you are pictured at a well-known venue or someone’s house?
Be careful who you become friends with online and what you share with them.
Be wary of surveys and competitions
Sometimes they ask for your personal details and you might be tempted to take them if attractive prizes are on offer. Often these are scams and are linked to identity theft. Find out more about protecting yourself from online scams and identity theft.
Disable location services and avoid ‘checking in’
If you do not want people to know where you are, disable the location-based services on your device and avoid ‘checking in’ to places and venues. Ask your friends not to check you in to places as well.
If you have a friend who is at risk of violence or stalking, don't ‘check in’, ‘tag’ or post anything about them publicly.
Change your settings so others can't ‘tag’ you or ‘check you’ in without your OK.
Don’t hashtag anything you don’t want to become public. Anything with a hashtag (such as #havingagreattime) is searchable on the internet, depending on your privacy settings.
Advice for women who experience abuse on social media
Do not respond to the abuse
Keep evidence of the abuse such as a screenshot or photo with your phone. Find out how to take a screenshot as the evidence may be useful later if you want to take legal action. It is a good idea to keep all evidence in a safe place or consider sending it to a friend for safe keeping.
Report the abuse
Reporting the abuse to the website it was posted on is a good first step to take, unless this will make the abuser angrier and put you in greater danger. You will find reporting links for individual services and platforms in The eSafety Guide.
If they don’t remove the content, report it to eSafety. Find out more about how to report.
Block the abuser
If you can, block the person and ignore their posts. Again, only do this if it is safe and won't make the abuser angrier.
Tell a trusted friend
You may feel awkward about this, but it is a good thing to share your concerns with others who care about you. Seeking help is your right and it could mean the abuse stops more quickly.
What to do if your account is hacked
Change your password immediately. If you are still worried, start a new account.
If you can't get into your own account, you need to report this to the service or platform. You can find reporting links in The eSafety Guide.
Dealing with fake accounts and impersonation
If someone has set up a fake social media account in your name, you can report the fake account directly to the service or platform that hosts it. Be aware though that it can take some time before the fake account is removed.
If the account is abusive or threatening, keep evidence of the abuse.
Contact local police to find out what evidence they need and report the abuse to them if you are scared about your safety. For more information, read our advice on dealing with adult cyber abuse.
For women experiencing violence, including domestic and family violence.
This advice has been developed for women who have experienced violence or fear they may experience violence to themselves or their children, including cyberstalking, from a current or former partner or another person.
Contact 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) for free and confidential safety planning, counselling and support for people who experience abuse, including family abuse and sexual abuse. 1800RESPECT can also link you to local services if you need them. Use a friend's phone or device to contact them or use a or public library computer and go to their website.
eSafety has legal powers to help protect people who live in Australia from the most serious online abuse and harmful content.
You can report tech abuse such as cyberstalking to eSafety if it meets the threshold for one of the regulatory schemes that allow us to have seriously harmful content removed. Find out more about reporting harmful online content to eSafety.
Disable location services and avoid ‘checking in’
Turn location services off in the settings of all devices you use and check the privacy settings on all social media. This will limit others tagging you or posting photos or videos of you. Do the same with children's devices and accounts.
Minimise your social media presence
Consider minimising social media posts until you feel safer. If this will make the abuser suspicious then keep posting but without location information or anything that will upset them.
Be mindful of what you share
Do not post photos or videos that show your location or the location of your children. Abusers may identify patterns in your day and week. Cut off the information so they can't follow you.
Talk to your children
Talk to your children about how important it is not to put location information online. Include them when you are developing the safety plan so they can communicate and stay connected safely.
If there is any direct abuse or threat contact police for advice. Ask police what evidence they will need to prove a crime is being committed. Read our advice on engaging help from police.
For further information see our advice for anyone experiencing online abuse as part of domestic and family violence and use our eSafety checklist.
Last updated: 13/04/2023