The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong, Ms Ada CHUNG Lai-ling, said, “The use of social media and instant messaging apps is very much part of everyday life for Hong Kong people. However, the use of social media and instant messaging apps carries inherent yet non-negligible risks to users’ privacy in relation to personal data.” In this regard, the PCPD today (5 April) issued the “Guidance on Protecting Personal Data Privacy in the Use of Social Media and Instant Messaging Apps” (Guidance), which provides the public with some practical advice to mitigate the privacy risks involved in the use of social media.
The Guidance points out that the use of social media and instant messaging apps (collectively, “social media”) is not really “free” because users’ personal data is usually monetised upon registration or in the course of user activities. The Guidance highlights that users of social media often unwittingly reveal more information than they anticipate, and most materials shared online can leave a perpetual digital footprint that is hard to remove. Information shared online can also be misused by third parties, and provides the materials for identity thefts, cyberbullying or doxxing.
The Guidance recommends that users of social media should:
Recognising that children usually are not able to identify the risks of giving away too much personal data online or spot online scams, the Guidance advises users of social media to be extra cautious about sharing photos and information of children. Parents and guardians are advised to provide guidance to their children on the smart use of social media.
A “Step-by-Step Guide on Adjusting Privacy Settings” is appended at the Annex to the Guidance. It outlines the steps users can follow in order to adjust some common privacy settings via the operating systems of mobile phones, or by directly adjusting the settings in the social media apps.
The “Guidance on Protecting Personal Data Privacy in the Use of Social Media and Instant Messaging Apps” can be downloaded at the PCPD’s website.