Respecting each other’s privacy and help available online

Respecting each other’s privacy and help available online


First appeared in Anglican Cyber Tuesdays 14/05/2019.

We have heard about the privacy risks online before:

  • Online abuse (cyberbullying);
  • Image-based abuse; 
  • Over sharing;
  • Not protecting your personal information; and
  • Treating online friends as real friends. 

We have also heard of the real-world repercussions before:

  • Long term trust and reputational damage (for years);
  • Unwanted contact; and
  • Financial damage or missing out on jobs.

Personal information can include information that is:

  • shared verbally (spoken);
  • captured digitally (posted); and
  • recorded (by your devices such as mobile phones, laptops or tablets).

According to the Office of Information Commissioner (Privacy Week 2020) people being tagged in photographs on social media sites may constitute as their personal information and this may even be labelled as sensitive information under Australian privacy legislation, as they reveal specifics such as health, race and religion.

Therefore, it is crucial you handle personal information carefully and securely. The eSafety Commissioner reveals what happens if you haven’t considered privacy  and suggest you google yourself to see what is out there. However, we must move beyond just Googling and also start to modify how we interact with others online. Here are some hints to kick start this:

  • Change privacy settings to share with friends only (no friends of friends or public);
  • Remove contacts you don’t know from your social media; 
  • Remove contacts who have consistently acted inappropriately (what makes you think you won’t be their next target);
  • Remove photographs tagging your home address;
  • Remove photographs showing your bedroom;
  • Revisit photos and comments to check if they can be interpreted another way;
  • Check with your parents to see what photographs they share and their level of privacy setting;
  • Rethink and unfollow people or groups who promote negative or antagonist views

it is uncool and reflects poorly on you;

  • Don’t tag people unless you have permission;

Why did you tag them? Did you forget who your friends are? Ask yourself who does tagging help and the answer is it’s not you or your friend;

  • Untag yourself in photographs or ask your friend to take them down (if they are your friend it should be no problem);
  • Lock your devices with passwords or biometrics;
  • Activate 2 factor authentication on your accounts;
  • Pick up your printing at school and don’t leave it laying around;
  • Be careful with emails and always consider others may forward them on;
  • Be aware of common cyber threats such as phishing, malware and ransomware, and go to to identify and mitigate these risks;
  • Rethink if someone says their cam is broken, it is a pretty good indication that they may be trying to deceive you;
  • Protect your storage devices (put them away) and keep your work area clean; and
  • Wipe or reset old devices and drives; and
  • Ask for permission before uploading or sharing photographs.

In the real world you need four (4) elements of valid consent:

  • It should always be in writing;
  • The individual must be adequately informed;
  • Consent must be voluntary; and
  • Consent must be current and specific.

It’s simple to apply and you will earn trust, be a good friend and keep the good times going:

  1. Before posting get the consent;
  2. Send a request message – hey can I use the photographs we took today to insta;
  3. Add clarity, be specific and don’t be misleading or try to trick anyone – The photos in front of the fountain, the good ones not the “stooped” one you said you didn’t like. And add the photos to the message.
  4. Wait for a reply and remember to be patient, as it may take a while. Don’t pressure them, as hounding, intimidating or coercing is not freely giving consent. Add a real message about being voluntary – its ok to say no    
  5. Take down: If they don’t want it up take it down.


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