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Social Media Tips for Youths in Immigration Proceedings

Immigration Laws & Rights

Being careful online is especially important if you are in an immigration proceeding.

Here, learn practical tips for protecting yourself on social media, especially if you are going through immigration proceedings. Understand how to maintain your privacy, limit your exposure, be mindful of what you post, and safeguard your passwords. 

Know the information and pictures associated with your name online.

Search for your name on the internet to know what information and pictures are associated with it. This is the information anyone interested in learning more about you may see. “Anyone” might be someone considering you for employment, a school admissions office, someone interested in dating you, your parent, or your younger sibling. In addition, the information and pictures associated with your name can be reviewed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and may affect how your immigration case is decided. DHS might accuse you of being a gang member or committing a drug crime, for example, based on photos or information you post on social media. 

Consider the name you use online and the email address associated with it.

Nothing requires you to use your real name on social media. You can use a nickname and only share it with selected individuals. And nothing requires you to use your primary email address for your social media accounts. 

Turn off the GPS locator.

Do you want your social media account to tell everyone where you are? Do you want your smartphone to tell everyone where you are? These can be dangerous tools as they affect your privacy and make you an easy target for crime. For example, if a criminal knows where you live and your posts show that you are not at home, that makes it a good time to break in. 

Think before you post.

You want an online image that you can be proud of. Remember that everything you post on the internet can be accessed by others, even after you erase the post. This includes everything you post—personal facts, ideas, photographs, and articles. The internet has a good memory—it never forgets.

Protect your image.

Don’t post pictures of yourself and others that you or they will regret sharing later. Once posted, those photos can be shared repeatedly by others. You can damage your or someone else's image even if you can subsequently “delete” the post. If someone else posts a picture with you in it, you can ask them to delete it, or you can un- “tag” yourself to at least limit who can view the photo. 

Watch your language.

Think before you use vulgar or harsh language, especially when directing that language at someone else. Again, you can damage your image. You can also hurt someone else’s feelings and appearance, even if, subsequently, you can delete the post. Once the words are posted, they cannot be taken back. 

Respect others’ privacy.

The Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) applies on the internet. 

Don’t post pictures of others you would not want to be posted of yourself. And don’t share details about someone else’s life that are not yours to share. Respect the right of others to keep pictures and information about themselves off the internet. Just because someone has shared something with you does not mean they want everyone on the internet to know about it. 

Reject some friend requests.

Everyone is not your friend, and social media can expose you to dangerous people worldwide. Be selective in accepting friend requests. Only accept people you know and who are your friends. If you don't know the person, don't accept the request. 

Limit your exposure.

You don’t know who will see your information or images or how they will use it, so limit what you post. You don’t want to be a victim of identity theft or worse because your name, date of birth, address, and other personal information are readily available online. Also, log out completely if you log into one of your accounts from someone else’s device. That way, someone else can’t access your information or post as you. 

Safeguard your passwords.

Although it may seem harmless to share your password with someone you trust now, don’t. Relationships change. You don’t want someone else to have access to your accounts for two reasons: one, they’ll have access to your private information, and two, they could pretend to be you and post damaging information or photos.

For each social media account, keep your password to yourself, and don’t make it one that is easy to guess (like your name or birthday). Instead, use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Do not use the same password for all of your accounts, and change your passwords frequently. 

Close old accounts.

Close accounts you no longer use. They can be especially problematic because you are not monitoring them. Your online image may be affected without you knowing someone has gained access to your old account or is posting information about you on an old forum you haven’t logged into. 

Demands for Your Password

If someone demands access to your social media accounts and you feel obliged to allow them that access (like someone from the Department of Homeland Security), offer to enter any passwords yourself instead of giving them your passwords. If you feel required to provide a password, change it as soon as possible to protect your privacy and prevent tampering with your account. 

Understand the privacy settings offered by the applications you use.

When using an application, learn about its privacy settings. As much as possible, limit who can see the information and images you post to those you know and trust. And be an informed user. Understand how the application might use the information and photos you provide. 

Lock your phone and other devices.

People lose their phones, their phones are stolen, or someone decides to snoop and look at someone else’s phone. Chances are one of these things will happen to you; if it is not your phone, it’ll be your computer, tablet, or another device. These devices hold so much information about you—information available in your texts, voicemails, e-mail communications, photos, social media accounts, and more. Keep this information as private as possible by locking your devices. 

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