Social Media: Messaging

  go to cyber resilience toolkit home

Social media is an inaccurate umbrella term that is used to cover a wide range of apps and services. This section covers apps and services that might be considered social media but that are typically used for messaging directly or in group chats, such as Snapchat and WhatsApp.


It covers:

  • main features of the services
  • potential risks
  • how to setup an account
  • using platform settings to manage risk
  • how to report harmful conduct

Main features

Platforms like Snapchat and Whatsapp offer a way to send direct messages to individuals or group chats. These can include text, voice notes, photos or video.

Potential risks

Ofcom data suggests that the most common potential harms on these types of platforms are:

With these harms, it is important to differentiate between problematic behaviour and harmful behaviour where there is a risk to safety, such as an adult contacting a child.

How to set up an account

Almost any app will require the same details to create an account and access its content:

  • username (usually an email or the phone’s linked Google or Apple account)
  • password

There may be requests for additional information, such as name, address or phone number – these are not always required.

These links explain how to register for and set up an account on the most popular platforms:

Using platform settings to manage risk

Each platform will have a setting for security and privacy – this can be used to control a number of aspects, including:

  • who can see posts or media
  • who can contact or follow you

These links explain how to use settings to reduce the potential risks of unwanted contact, being tagged in abusive or bullying content, or seeing inappropriate or unwanted content on the most popular platforms:

How to report harmful conduct

If a user thinks they have been potentially harmed on the platform they should be aware of how to report this to the platform and potentially the police and trusted adults.

These links explain how to report users and content on the most popular platforms: