Home Content Forum Lifestyle Self-Love and Self-Regulation Makes for a Safer Social Space
Home Content Forum Lifestyle Self-Love and Self-Regulation Makes for a Safer Social Space

Self-Love and Self-Regulation Makes for a Safer Social Space

Content Forum sheds light on the importance of self-regulation and shares some best practices and tips for all social media users

Social media is guilty of being a very addictive platform that is used religiously by a majority of internet users across the world. With the ease of access to news and information, social interaction and entertainment, it is a no brainer why users are on it all day, every day – no matter if they’re on the go, at home or at work.

As we are virtually surrounded by an endless amount of content produced on social platforms, some harmful and inappropriate, it is vital for internet users to be extra wary of the fact that the internet can be a double-edged sword. Users can be entertained one second and harassed in the next. This involves platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat to name a few. That said, adopting self-regulation practices is the best way forward towards cultivating a healthy online space for both content creators and consumers.

To help safeguard the online space for all, consumers and content creators alike can and should report such inappropriate content to organisations like Content Forum, who is an independent self-regulatory body registered under the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). Last year, the Content Forum saw a total of 600 complaint cases lodged via its Complaints Portal, emails and letters with complainants about various content issues ranging from advertising and broadcasting to mobile content.

Out of that total, 69% of it or 412 cases involved inappropriate or sensitive content found on the internet, primarily on social media platforms. This is a significant growth from 169 similar complaints raised in 2020.

“Social media is a fantastic platform where people can connect and communicate with one another from anywhere and about anything. But every day there will be some form of inappropriate, harmful or sensitive content being shared. Since most of us don’t like being controlled, then it is up to us, both the consumers and content creators alike, to practice self-regulation to keep the virtual space safe for all users. All social media platforms have their own community guidelines so if you see anyone breaching them, use your right to lodge a report. If you see content that you personally find offensive but doesn’t breach these guidelines, then exercise your power to block, mute or unfollow,” said Content Forum executive director Mediha Mahmood.

She added that when in doubt over what is inappropriate or harmful content, one useful resource for self-regulation is the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Content Code (Content Code), which is a set of guidelines outlining best practices and ethical standards for content creation and consumption across all digital media platforms.

To start 2022 on a clean virtual slate, social media users are encouraged to practice self-regulation and adopt safe practices when surfing the internet. Here are some best practices and tips that can be used when in the virtual space:

Privacy Check-Up
Privacy settings are often overlooked as there is always the assumption that default settings are good enough. However, more often than not, the default privacy settings only provide a thin layer of shield in the virtual world. It is always good to review the privacy settings and adjust it to what is deemed fit. Altering it will allow the account holder to block strangers from viewing private information or even photos that can be saved and shared with others. These settings can also help limit the information available in search results.

Adopt Parental Controls
It is crucial for parents to always be in the loop on what their children are doing on the internet. Be it on social media, playing virtual games or simply just surfing the internet, there are online predators and dangers lurking at every corner. Parents can and should take control of what sort of content is suitable for consumption and filter it accordingly. Taking advantage of existing features such as parental locks, filters, timing locks and security blocks are good first steps towards self-regulation. Coupled with having conversations about self-regulation, this is a good way parents and guardians can help keep their loved ones safe online.

Be Aware, Don’t Overshare
Sharing private information on social networking sites and social media platforms are sometimes seen as a norm to the younger generation as all their friends are doing it, so why not? Little do they know that the dangers of oversharing can lead to identity theft, fraud, scams or even being stalked. While sharing basic private information like date of birth, home address, phone number or even checking in at locations may seem harmless, it actually sets up the stage for online predators to use the information and act on it. For the sake of personal safety, always be mindful of what personal information should be shared online and choose to only share with close friends and trusted followers.

What Goes Online Stays Online
As the saying goes, what goes around comes around and in the virtual world, anything and everything that is posted online may come back to bite you. Something as simple as a harmless photo of your children or a post about a rave party last night could end up being screen shot, saved and shared across multiple platforms by various people. It is important to note that once information goes online, it is impossible to remove so people should start realising the permanence of what is typed and shared. Always bear in mind that the consequences to what is posted may also affect future job prospects, relationships and could even leave a person vulnerable to crimes.

Strengthen Passwords
Having a strong password can be likened to installing a strong lock for your house door. Security is an important feature in both the virtual and physical world. Creating a strong password can keep hackers at bay and prevent them from gaining access to accounts to post spam or launch malicious attacks. Some tips on choosing a password; create an alphanumeric password that is no less than eight characters. In order to ensure maximum security, passwords should be changed approximately once every three months.

Friends May Be Foes
In keeping up with the hype and popularity craze on social media, it is always exciting to grow your friends and followers list. Some may even get on a competitive streak just to prove how popular they are. However, it is prudent to recognise who your real friends are and who are not. A high number of friends or followers is not always a good sign as by adding or approving the wrong people, it may turn out to be problematic instead. For example, that “friend” may have malicious intent, launch a virus attack or even stalk you in real life.

Verify Connections
There are many reasons why someone may put up a fake account or even go to the lengths of stealing a friend’s identity by creating a new account and adding everyone on their friend’s list. It is often used as a ruse to get money and commit fraud. This is a very common scenario that many have encountered, especially on social media platforms. If ever there is even the slightest doubt over an account, it is best to either verify its authenticity or double check it with the friend whose account it supposedly belongs to.

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