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Back to school:  Who knows what you did this summer?

Students heading back to the classroom for 2012 are being reminded to review their social media privacy settings to make them as strong as possible.

The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, sends this reminder to coincide with Data Privacy Day 2012.

"Gone are the days when students shared stories of what happened on holidays only with their close friends in the school ground. Students have huge social media networks with hundreds of ‘friends' that they are sharing their personal information with," Mr Pilgrim said.

"I urge students to think very carefully about what they are posting online and who can see it. What you post online today can have long term effects down the track. A future employer may pick up on material that you may think has been long buried."

A recent survey conducted by the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities on social media privacy showed that people do in fact care about their privacy on social networking sites.

"Most people like to talk and share information about themselves but the survey showed us that people are concerned about whether they can control who sees the information they put on social networking sites," Mr Pilgrim said.

"By all means use social networking but please be sensible when you do. Make sure that you are familiar with how to set and change the privacy settings and understand who can see what you are posting."

Privacy tips for students

  • Review your privacy settings on social media
  • Stop and think before you post personal information online
  • Before you post and tag pictures of someone else, ask their permission – and request that they do the same for you
  • Don't accept friend requests from people you don't know

Upcoming privacy awareness events

Data Privacy Day is an international awareness day (primarily celebrated in United States, Canada and Europe) to provide education about information privacy. For more information see www.staysafeonline.org/dpd/ and www.coe.int.

Privacy Awareness Week (29 April – 5 May 2012) is the primary privacy awareness and education event in the Asia Pacific region. For more information see www.privacyawarenessweek.org.

Stay Smart Online is an Australian Government initiative, supported by National Cyber Security Awareness Week (4 June – 8 June 2012), to help Australians understand the simple steps they can take to protect their personal and financial information online.

To help spread the word about being safe online, secondary students can apply to become one of Australia's next Stay Smart Online agents by visiting staysmartonline.gov.au/agents and creating a short video to show how they are cyber secure. Entries close 14 February.

Media enquiries: Leila Daniels 0407 663 968 or media@oaic.gov.au