Social media networks have been increasing in popularity over the past few years and now have hundreds of millions of users combined. People love to use these sites for a variety of reasons, including sharing news, pictures and business information. Unfortunately, this brings up the issue of privacy. What happens to personal information after it’s been uploaded? Who has access to your information other than your friends and family? Can criminals or businesses take advantage of what you post? Protecting your privacy while using social media sites is important to protect your identity.
Adjust Your Privacy Settings
Most media sites offer you the ability to manually adjust your settings. When you sign up for new social media sites, be aware of which accounts they’ll have access to. Some apps and programs request access to many accounts you own, which may compromise your physical address, private information and more. On Facebook, new apps you install will request permission to access your account, so make sure you trust every app you allow.
Assume Everything is Public
This is a good practice whenever you’re posting something on a social media network, whether it’s a comment or a photograph. Many networks change their privacy policies frequently and without much notice, especially Facebook. Don’t post information you wouldn’t be comfortable with everyone seeing.
Watch Out for Location-Based Check-Ins
Some apps or networks allow you to check-in and display to everyone where you are–and where you aren’t. Make sure you’re comfortable with the idea of people knowing your exact location and that you’re not at home before you check-in to locations on social media sites.
Always Log Off Social Sites
Don’t forget to log out of your social networking sites both on the desktop and on your electronic devices when you aren’t using them. Leaving Facebook signed in on your phone, tablet computer or desktop may give a number of people access to your private account if you walk away. While this may seem like overkill, it’s a good practice to avoid unauthorized access to your accounts. It’s also especially important when you’re using a public computer or public connection, such as at a library.
Create a Secure Password
Always make the passwords to your social media accounts very strong. Use letters, numbers and symbols to make it impossible to guess, and avoid obvious passwords like your spouse’s name, a birthday or your social security number. If possible, also avoid a word that’s in the dictionary, which can make it easy for a program designed by hackers to guess. For the best protection, use a different password for every media account. This way, if one account is compromised it doesn’t allow a hacker access to your other accounts. If you need extra help to remember all of your passwords, write them down and store this paper somewhere safe and secure.
Be Careful Posting Photos
Finally, think twice about what posting photographs on Facebook or other social media sites. Consider the fact that your photos may be viewed by people you don’t know and may reveal information you’d like to keep private. For example, you may unintentionally reveal the school your child attends by posting a photograph of them in a school uniform. You should also avoid posting pictures of expensive new items in your home to avoid making it a target for thieves. While this seems far-fetched, criminals have been known to use social media to target homes. Foursquare is an especially easy way for thieves to know exactly when you’re out of your home and most vulnerable.