I’ve seen a lot of stuff about social media safety recently. Mostly it’s been about child safety – I personally don’t have any experience of that, not having kids, but I’ve been really, really shocked by some of it. Here is a link to a Medium post about Instagram safety if you post pictures of your kids on the ‘gram.
I’d like to think I’m pretty up on social media safety and privacy – I’ve had a few uneasy experiences in the past that has led me to be very careful. Unfortunately, there are people who exploit social media for criminal, dangerous, and just downright creepy purposes.
If you think about it too much (fully paid-up member of the Over Thinkers Club here) it is TERRIFYING. Having said this, I will not be scared off social media and let creeps ruin something I enjoy and use responsibly. But your and your family’s safety is paramount.
Here are my top home account tips from my own experiences:
1. You are in control
If you have a house account, chances are you’re a people-pleaser and sharer. Hi. Me too. But remember YOU are in control of what you share.
If you feel unsure about sharing something – don’t share it, and if you’ve changed your mind, take it down. I know for people-pleasers this can be hard, especially when you’ve had great feedback from something you’ve shared (like the front of your house for example). But if you feel weird, it’s not worth it.
I’ll be honest – I feel a bit weird about sharing the house now we live here. It’s a different dynamic and I’m working out how I feel about it. Ultimately, does it matter if people don’t know what the front of our house looks like? No, it doesn’t. Question what your motivations are for having a house account, and what matters to you.
This also goes for who else you share the space with, it’s probably their house and home too. I always check with Ross before I post, especially if it’s a pic of him, or a pic of his possessions (he tells me I don’t have to, but I want to).
2. Your location
This is a tricky one. Personally, I don’t mind sharing that we’re in Bristol, because it’s a big city and I’m passionate about community and supporting local business and want to use this account to amplify that. If I was in a small town, I might think twice.
Think about what’s around you, is it easily identifiable? I’ve seen landmarks like shops, restaurants, schools in the back of people’s pics or stories – it only takes a quick Google search to find it, then, of course, there’s Google Street view.
Also, a lot of houses on home and renovation accounts have been for sale recently, so chances are they’re going to be on Zoopla. If you share your ‘estate agent pics’ a Google image search (where you input an image into Google, and Google searches for similar images) they might still be on Zoopla and tied to your home address.
No matter how careful you are, people will probably know where you live, or at least roughly where you live. Are you comfortable with that?
Until recently, I had our frontage as our profile pic and I’ve had people contact me (local peeps and nice neighbours) saying I know exactly where you live – which is a little bit jarring! Not because I’m worried about them – but if they know, chances are people I don’t want to know, also know…you know?!
3. Your Instagram handle
Does it include elements of your address? It’s very common to see house accounts with the house number, or street name in the handle. This on its own is probably OK, and I get it – the aspects of your house’s identity are what makes your insta brand. But I’d encourage you to just think about how many elements you include in your ENTIRE Instagram presence.
For example: if you make it known you live in Manchester, you’ve got your house number in your handle, the front of your house as a post, and you post ‘I bought this loaf of bread from The Local Identifiable Deli around the corner’ in an Instagram story – that’s actually quite a lot of info. It wouldn’t take someone long on Google to find your house from just that innocent information.
4. Home security
Don’t share what home security you have in your house. I realise I’ve shared a pic of the inside of our front door recently – but you don’t know what other security measures we have in place.
Also, be careful when you’re away from your house. Obviously, if you’ve been on holiday somewhere fun you probably want to share it. But think about sharing once you’re back, otherwise, wronguns know your house is empty, and you shared a pic of your expensive new telly last week. Posting a lovely round-up of your trip once your back might be a better plan.
You can also use scheduling tools on Instagram like Later, to schedule posts and stories to give the impression that you’re home even if you’re actually not.
5. Trust your gut
This is kind of my first point repeated, but remember: some people are weird. Not good weird, we like those people – but some people will push your boundaries or make you feel uncomfortable. It is 100% OK to block or hide your content from people/accounts that give you a bad gut feeling.
You should NEVER feel unsafe or threatened on this, or any, social media platform. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable – fuck politeness and shut down that engagement. Oh, and IG and FB don’t really give a fuck about protecting their users. It’s really not in their best interests (£$£$£).
Another truth is, you don’t 100% know who is behind a social media profile. I’ve pretty much grown up on the internet – social media kicked off when I was in my teens (special shout-out to myspace) and has been a big aspect of my social life – so I think I’ve got pretty good instincts.
There are so many positives about engaging with people online: I wouldn’t have made any friends at uni if it wasn’t for Facebook, progressed my career if not for LinkedIn, or met Ross if it wasn’t for Tinder (!)- and I love meeting new people in this house/home/renovation Instagram world.
I have my own red flags about accounts I think might be dodgy or following us for reasons other than an interest in home renovation. Even though I feel pretty confident that I could easily spot an account I’m not happy with a mile off, I don’t take my instincts for granted.
So, there you go – hope I’ve not terrified you into erasing your entire online presence! I just want to encourage you to think about your own safety, your Instagram/internet boundaries, and to know that you are in control of what you share.
Please comment with your own thoughts and tips. AND if you know of any good resources on these topics – please share!