Staying safe on social media is paramount. That includes having strong passwords, being aware of what you post, and removing people you do not know from your friend’s list. Here are 8 ways to stay safe on social media.
Social networks are a convenient and very popular way of sharing information and communicating with friends and strangers, but using social networks can also cause some problems. Here’s what you should keep in mind if you use social media.
- Control who sees what you post. When you post information about yourself on a social network, you need to understand that those posts become more or less accessible to virtually everyone. However, you can control who sees what post on most social media. It’s recommended to have your posts only be seen by people on your friend list. However, you should go through your friend list and delete people you do not know.
- Be selective of who is in your friend list. Do not accept friend requests just because, and only accept people you actually know. If you already have hundreds or even thousands of people in your friend list, go on a cleaning spree and remove people who have no business being on that list. If you’re an avid poster and reveal personal details in your posts, be particularly careful of who can see those posts.
- Do not overshare. Be aware of what you can and what you should not share with your social media friends. Do not post things you will feel embarrassed about some time later, and do not post embarrassing things about others. Such posts can go viral pretty quickly, and once they’re out there, there’s no stopping it. Essentially, think twice before posting anything. Furthermore, think carefully whether you need to reveal the city you live in, where you work, what school you graduated, etc., in your social media profile.
- Google yourself. While most people will not admit to doing it, googling (or using some other search engine) oneself is a convenient way to check how much information about you can be found on the Internet, particularly from social media. If there is any way of controlling the information that comes up (deleting old, unused accounts, etc.), do not hesitate to do it. Be aware that other people who google you can see exactly what you see, so if anything you do not want others knowing comes up, at least try to remove that information, and be more careful about posting in the future. In addition, do not use information that can be found on the Internet about you as your security question. For example, if the information about the place where you were born is public on your Facebook profile, do not use “Where were you born” as the security question.
- Do not press on suspicious links. Malicious parties distribute links to malicious websites via social media. For example, your social media friend’s computer could be infected with malicious software. Malicious software can use that person’s social media account to spread the infection further. His/Her account would start sending infected messages with links to other people. While those infected messages are very obvious, someone who has never encountered them before may end up clicking on the link. You can also encounter these malicious links in posts offering certain features like seeing who has viewed your profile, or see who has unfollowed you.
- Change social media security and privacy settings. Social media services offer a variety of profile settings that define who and to what extent can see your public information. You can also change settings (to a certain extent) related to how that social media collects your information and how it uses it. The less information social media services have about you, the better. You can find a list of Facebook privacy setting changes you should make here. Also, don’t forget to sign out of your account if you’re using a public computer. Or better yet, only log in to social media or any other account when you’re using your own device.
- Secure your accounts. Create strong passwords on all your accounts, and do not reuse passwords. Strong passwords should be long, have a mixture of lower and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols. The less sense the password makes, the better. You should also turn on two-factor-authentication when possible.
- Do not use social media to sign up to services. Many services offer you to log in using your Facebook, Google or Twitter accounts instead of creating a new account. While that is convenient, it’s not a good option. Not only would you be providing social media with even more information about yourself and revealing your identity to third-party services, you would also be allowing hackers to access those connected accounts if your Facebook, Google or Twitter is hacked.
If you want to learn more, you can find more tips on how to improve your online privacy here.