Do safety and social media go hand-in-hand? We asked, you answered!

Karishma Jangid
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Do safety and social media go hand-in-hand? We asked, you answered!

How compatible are safety and social media for women and queer folks? Content creators Diksha Singhi, Shraddha Singh, and Ankita Mehra guide us through.

The words ‘Instagram’ or ‘social media’ are often synonymous with fun, cool selfies, and aesthetic pictures. However, every social media platform has its own risks and safety has been a huge question mark especially when it comes to women and queer creators. Social media bullying and harassment are real phenomena that disturb many creators. From receiving unwanted vulgar images in DMs to body shaming in the comments, a lot of baggage comes along with fame when you’re a digital creator. While one might say that the masses have grown more aware and sensitized over the years, many are still learning social media etiquette. Is that enough though? We asked Diksha Singhi, Shraddha Singh, and Ankita Mehra how safe social media really is for women and queer creators.

Also Read: Maleesha Kharwa makes us believe in the power of dreams! 

Here’s what they said!

How safe was social media when you started out, especially for women?

Diksha, who has been creating content for 5-6 years, kept her account private at first because she felt unsafe. “I wasn’t okay sharing pictures of myself in a swimsuit or working out with people who didn’t know me. But with time, both my journey and Instagram’s features helped me open up.” Shraddha, too, feels that social media back then wasn’t as safe as it is today. “We didn’t have as many privacy laws. Catfishing was also very common. When I first joined, people used my pictures pretending to be me. It was difficult to report and the answers weren’t as quick. People tried to hack my accounts all the time." Talking about safety, Ankita says, “Dekho, bullying toh har gender ke saath hoti hai, especially with people from the queer community. Hum aise discriminate nahi kar sakte ke bullying happens only with women.” She further adds, “Safe toh kya bole, there are a lot of measures that Instagram takes to ensure that you keep yourself safe. Keep your profile private. If it’s open then you can expect a lot of bullying and nonsense coming in via comments."

What challenges have you faced over the years regarding safety on social media?

Diksha has often found herself at the receiving end of endless hate comments. “Rape threats, men sending their nudes, and getting endless messages asking for my phone number are very common.” Shraddha, on the other hand, complains about people trying to log into her account without success. “As my presence is growing, I see that most of my content is published on various pages without any credit. Catfishing is also a very big security problem,” she says. Ankita has faced a lot of challenges too. Her photos were picked and a lot of fake profiles were made. Her friends would send links that, upon clicking, hack one’s accounts. Explaining one more issue on social media, she says, “Screenshots make it a lot easier to steal your content and use.”

Is social media safe for you currently? How do you tackle the challenges that you face about safety?

Diksha mentions that a lot of the challenges that she faced earlier have stopped. “If a picture is displaying nudity or isn’t as per Instagram’s guidelines, they blur it. You can also easily restrict comments.” Shraddha believes that social media is as safe as one makes it. Speaking of the measures she takes, she says, “I love talking to my audience and sharing my personal experiences. I keep strong passwords. I check the background of a picture/video twice before publishing it to make sure that it doesn’t reveal any personal info. I also respect others’ privacy and only feature them on my channels if they’re comfortable.” Ankita echoes similar sentiments when she says, “It’s not just the responsibility of Instagram to take care of you. You should also take care of your safety.” She advises that one should take all the measures to keep their profile safe. Keep a difficult password, don’t click on random links, and do not accept requests from random people.

Which feature do you think was a much-needed step?

Diksha likes the ‘blurring image’ feature the most while Shraddha likes the Two Factor Authentication. “It’s way more difficult for hackers to get into your account with just your password when you have 2FA on your social accounts.” Ankita comes up with an important suggestion. She believes that the most important Instagram feature in India would be using pronouns.

Which social media platform do you think works best for you, and how comfortable are you on that platform?

Diksha reveals that she only uses and feels comfortable using Instagram. Shraddha currently uses a range of social media platforms like Instagram, Youtube, TikTok, and Facebook. She is pretty comfortable with these as she has learned how to keep herself safe. “I am more of a LinkedIn person,” says Ankita. She also shares her content on Instagram.

Do you think social media platforms have taken initiatives regarding features and programs for women's safety online?

Diksha can say this surely for Instagram. “The features I mentioned above came only recently and of course, they have helped in creating content online without feeling like I will be thrown off by haters.” Shraddha praises the feature of reporting an account or post. “It’s easier to report content now and they usually respond within 24 hrs. Meta has also launched a new Women’s Safety Hub and a campaign called ‘Safe Stree’.” Ankita’s opinion differs a bit as she believes that Instagram should make reporting easier and more frequent. She asks, “ln case a person is spreading hate on various posts, why don’t you block that person? If they’re putting up bad comments in one video and then going to another person spewing hate again, I think those bullies should be blocked from Instagram forever.”

What message would you like to give to women who face harassment and trolling online?

“Don’t let them stop you. In all honesty, that’s all they’re hoping for,” advises Diksha. In a similar vein, Shraddha advises not to feed trolls. “If you really wanna fight them, do so by continuing the amazing work that you’re doing! They just need your attention. “Block” should be your favorite button. Report any content that concerns you and don’t think twice before informing the authorities if you receive threats to personal safety,” she suggests. Ankita adds, “Who are those people? They are not your family members, right? They are there to just hurt you. Their job will be successful once they see that you are affected by their comments.” Ankita deals with hateful comments by making fun of them. “If someone says “Ankita, you’re fat”, I reply “Yeah, I am trying to eat a lot. I love food,” she explains. “I have seen a lot of people exhausting their mental health by commenting and replying to hateful comments. Ignorance is the best. Do not mind deleting the comments. You can definitely delete comments if it hurts you because that’s your own property.”

This article was first featured in the May edition of the Social Ketchup magazine.

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