We all know the basics about keeping safe online – things like using different passwords for different services (as well as changing them regularly and never giving them to someone else), avoiding ‘phishing‘ (ie scam) emails, spotting and removing spyware, and dealing with computer viruses.

However, some students are unaware of the detrimental effects that their behaviour online can have. The University has published guidance on its expectations around the use of social networking sites and other online behaviour under the title Being Online. You should take a moment to familiarise yourself with this guidance, because it forms part of the University’s rules (as found in the Calendar).

Here are some examples of potential risks on the net:

  1. If you post a picture of Facebook you are running the risk of a future employer spotting it;
  2. If you say something unpleasant on Twitter you may cause someone offence;
  3. If you use an image on Tumblr you might infringe someone else’s copyright;
  4. If you if you let off steam in a blog post you might end up defaming someone;
  5. If you post something anonymously to an online group or community you’ve given your details to the owner of that site, and who knows what they’ll do with them.

Once you post something online it can take on a life of its own and you may no longer have control over it. What seems like a laugh now might not seem so funny in the future and may cause one of your peers real distress.

There are all sorts of ways in which you can (inadvertently) break the law whilst online. Knowthenet has published an online test where you can see if you are in danger of becoming an accidental outlaw, they’ve also published some top tips on how to stay legal when using social media.

The University’s regulations for conduct outline how we expect our students to act towards others. We expect students to behave properly and ensure that they don’t bring the university into disrepute through their actions. These rules apply to your online activities too. You can find out how we expect you to act towards other students and staff in the Reading Student Charter. If you break these rules you could jeopardise your university career.

Useful links