5 golden rules for social network users

The world's population is estimated to be around 7.4 billion. By the end of 2015, the number of Facebook users had grown to 1.59 billion. With an annual increase of 17%, the social media behemoth is simply too big to ignore. The same is true for many other well-known social networks. Twitter's 310 million monthly active users post on average 347,222 times per minute. Many of them tweet more than 100 times a day, and even more users tweet less than once a day. More than 40 billion photos have been shared on Instagram since its inception, and more than 80 million photos are posted there every day. This is a lot of data: some of it is important, some of it is interesting, some of it is superfluous. Social networks, with their trends and rules, are an extension of reality - and have a massive impact on our offline lives. In this article, discover five simple rules that every social network user should keep in mind.

1. Don't be provoked by internet monitors

Internet controllers take part in discussions and don't mind provoking and annoying other users. You can find trolls everywhere: in forums, chats and all other online communication platforms. Media comment areas are known for their high rate of trolls. Of course, they are also numerous in social networks. How to talk to trolls? You shouldn't! Just ignore them. Many users take the bait and start heated debates in which they try to express their opinions, wasting a lot of time and effort. There is always someone on the Internet who doesn't mean well or is wrong. Don't waste your time and energy on trolls. In the worst case, you may encounter a troll who wants revenge - and spam your email or even ruin your life. For example, the result of cyberbullying, which included swatting and other attacks on the offline world, was that an American couple lost time, money, their jobs and eventually their marriage.

2. Do not post or repost anything illegal

The United Arab Emirates and New Zealand have laws that strictly punish cyberbullying and trolling with fines ranging from $35,000 to jail time. However, you can expect serious consequences for posting, reposting and other social media activities in most countries. For example, two men were sentenced to four years in prison after creating a Facebook event calling for violent riots. In Bangladesh, a man was sentenced to prison for joking about the death of the prime minister. With this in mind, it is best that you know your country's laws and remember them when posting something on Facebook or Twitter.

3. Not reporting fraud

Scammers often trick victims with shocking stories of dying babies, drowning puppies or fighting veterans. These messages, disguised as cries for help, circulate on social networks. In fact, they are used for financial theft, phishing and malware distribution. These messages generate many reposts, but the majority of them are fraudulent. The real calls for help are usually from your family, friends and friends of friends. The gifts are organized on official sites by companies, not by strangers. So it's best to pay attention and check each post before you click "Like" or "Share". Don't want to check every such post? Then don't click - don't put yourself or your friends at risk of becoming a victim of fraud.

4. Think about reader feedback

You probably have co-workers, supervisors, and clients among your friends on Facebook and Instagram. When you apply for a new job, HR will likely review your social media profile. Think about what you want to show them - and especially what you don't want to show them. You need to think carefully about what you post on other users' sites and on public accounts, such as those of companies and universities. In 2013, for example, a Pennsylvania man was fired for "complimenting" a schoolgirl online. His comment was neither sexual nor inappropriate, but it was clear that the girl's mother did not like the comment. A year earlier, a teacher in Moses Lake, Washington was fired because a woman she didn't even know personally complained about one of your posts. These are just a few examples of why it's best to save your questionable photos and posts for your friends. For help customizing privacy settings for different social networks, please see our blogs on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Tumblr.

5. Don't post private data

Many social networks offer "check-ins" - so you can mark where you took the photo or posted something or visited. If you are interested in an event, the social network can inform your friends in case they want to stop by. By default, anyone can access this data and criminals have countless ways to use it - from breaking and entering to identity theft. That's why we highly recommend using Facebook's privacy settings to protect this type of data from strangers. There's a good reason not to add to your friends list out of carelessness: users who send you friend requests can be bots, trolls and even criminals. Even if Facebook informs you that you have dozens of mutual friends, don't accept these requests until you're sure you're really a friend.
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