Social media is frequently used by journalists as a means of promoting their work, contacting sources, and connecting with colleagues.
But with increased use comes increased risks. The safety of many freelance journalists has been compromised because of the information and images they have posted on social media, so it’s important to be aware of the risks and adopt best practices.
Best practice: social media
- Where possible, create separate work and personal social media accounts. This is to protect you, your family, and your sources.
- Think carefully about the information that you post on social media and how this could put you and your family at risk. Do not post details such as your address, passport details, or date of birth online.
- Check the privacy settings of your accounts regularly to ensure that any information you want to be kept private is protected from public view.
- Regularly review comments left on your social media accounts. Pay attention to any particularly hostile or threatening messages as this may help to spot any possible adversaries.
- Speak with friends and family about your social media profile. Inform them if you do not want to be tagged in photos and/or online comments. Set your social media profiles to inform you if you are tagged. See the Facebook guide below.
- Turn off geotagging if you are concerned about having your location posted on social media sites.
- Avoid using social media to conduct interviews with sources. Use a more secure platform instead. See our guide on securing your materials. To protect you and your sources, turn on secret messaging for Facebook chats. See the Facebook guide below for information on this.
- Always log out of your social media accounts. This will prevent someone from accessing your information.
- Use strong, long passwords to protect your social media accounts, or think about using a password manager. Look at our password guide for help on how to do this.
- Use two-step verification to protect your accounts. See our email guide for further information.
Facebook has written a guide for journalists to help them use Facebook more securely. There is also a guide about securing your information on Facebook.
Twitter has a guide on how to keep your account secure.