Social media has become the go-to platform for communication and connectivity. Most of us are dependent on platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook to stay informed. In certain neighbourhoods, complexes and estates, the community will form groups on social media for the sole purpose of exchanging important information around neighbourhood safety, such as a nearby break-in or a dangerous con-artist that should be avoided.

Unlike your existing social media groups such as for family, work, or even the forum you use to share memes, security groups have certain unspoken rules to ensure that it’s used to alert us of safety concerns or suspicious activity. If you are a member of a security group, below are a few rules to help you contribute meaningfully to your neighbourhood:

     1. Don’t spread fake news

WhatsApp and Facebook groups are notoriously known for spreading fake news quite quickly. Try not to become part of the problem by bombarding the security groups with warnings based on rumours. Nobody likes fake news and you don’t want to create unnecessary or false panic. Make a concerted effort only to share legitimate information that can be verified. To do this, make sure the information comes from a reputable source and that multiple trustworthy news portals are sharing the same information.

     2. Keep your opinions to yourself

As a rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid topics that would naturally aggravate members. Try not to bring your opinions about politics or religion into the discussion around neighbourhood safety. You should also try to avoid arguments with other members via the platform. If you do find yourself in a disagreement with another member, rather send a private message and deal with it outside of the forum.

     3. Remember it’s a group chat

Nobody on the group wants to have their phone blowing up with messages from the neighbourhood security group, thinking it’s an emergency only to find out that two members are having a conversation unrelated to the group. If you do this, you may even be removed from the group and left in the dark about what’s happening in your neighbourhood.

     4. Avoid unrelated topics

Although the group is a way to connect with your neighbours, it shouldn’t be used to gossip or share your life story. Don’t use this platform to talk about unrelated topics as members can become annoyed with the content and decide to mute the group, which means that should something happen, they won’t be notified.

Stay connected

If you’re not already part of your neighbourhood security group, speak to your HOA or Body corporate, or chat to your neighbours to find out if they would be interested in forming one. A local resident estate agent might also be willing to set up and manage the security group on the suburb’s behalf. If your current neighbourhood believes it’s every household for themselves, maybe it’s time to start looking for a new home in a close-knit community.