This post was most recently updated on April 29, 2022.
Protecting your personal information online is always important, and protecting your privacy on social media can help safeguard your information in more ways than one.
Learn how to be more mindful of the information you share on social media sites while protecting your personal reputation.
Why is Privacy Important on Social Media?
Privacy is important on social media to help keep your personal information safe, as well as uphold a professional image for yourself. What you share on your social media accounts can either help or hurt your online reputation, which depends on the type of content you share online.
It’s worth it to read and understand all the privacy terms on each of your social media accounts. This report will tell you who has access to your information, what information may be sold to third parties and advertisers, and what information is truly private.
Every social media platform is different, so take some time and read through the terms of service for each carefully. Remember, you’re agreeing to publicly share any information that isn’t private.
Turn Your Account Settings to Private
Turning your social media account settings to private allows you to maintain control over who you allow to view your profile. Only those who send you a formal friend request will be able to view your information, allowing you to maintain more control over your online identity.
Lack of understanding can result in an accidental change to your privacy setting level. For example, on Facebook you can change a “Friends” privacy level to “Public” for an individual post, but you need to remember to review your next post because it will default to “Public.” Something meant only for your friends can be dangerously visible for anyone on Facebook to see.
If your profiles are public, anyone and everyone has access to whatever you post online. Your pictures, tweets, posts, likes, comments, etc. can all be seen by the masses and turn viral very easily if your account settings are not set to private.
It’s a good idea to allow Facebook tagging if your privacy settings require you to review them. This alerts you to what others can see and gives you the option of doing something about it. Tags can be rejected and you can ask to have problematic posts or photos removed, but only if you know about them.
Review your privacy settings and profiles occasionally, especially after learning about any updates or changes to the platform.
Be Mindful of Your Audience
Be careful of who you accept as friends or followers. If your profile is public, you can have total strangers sending you friend or follow requests. It’s best to keep your friends list to only people you know personally. You’ll have more confidence knowing exactly what type of audience you are posting to.
By only allowing followers you know personally to follow you, you’ll have peace of mind knowing the information you share is only going towards those who have your best interests in mind.
When following other accounts, be mindful of what types of profiles and content you are subscribing to. If you are trying to maintain a professional image online, it’s a good idea to follow other accounts that are aligned with your beliefs. Oftentimes followers can view who and what type of accounts you follow if they are friends with you online.
Think Before You Post
Social media platforms are made for being just that, social. However, it’s sometimes easy to forget just how easy the social networking posts you share can be distributed to the masses with the quick click of a button.
However challenging, it is possible to maintain a decent level of privacy by using common sense and following some simple guidelines.
Posts, photos and videos can be saved, printed, copied and pasted or captured with screenshots. Prior to posting, carefully review your content and the message you’re trying to send. Think ahead about what the consequence will be if a post gets sent to unintended recipients or if your message comes across the wrong way.
Electronic sharing is quick and easy, so it’s best to assume your social media posts can go viral, regardless of intentions or privacy settings. The best thing you can do is think twice before you post anything to social media.
Consider What Personal Details You List
Do you want everyone to be able to see things like your birthday, email address, or phone number? Every social media platform is different, so be sure to find out exactly what contact information is public on your profiles.
Be sure to check the appearance of your personal details on different web browsers, social media apps, and operating systems. Different devices and browsers can display information slightly differently, and it varies from app to app.
Disabling location services blocks advertisers and apps from being able to track your location whether you’re using the app, or not. Double-check your default privacy settings to make sure this is turned off, or that it is turned off when not using the app.
Taking control of your location settings gives you an extra layer of protection towards your private information, making it harder for questionable users to collect your information.
Avoid Internet Hackers
Pay attention to message content before clicking links or downloading attachments. Messages containing only links or attachments are likely to have come from a hacker.
If a message is suspicious, report the message and block the sender. Lately there has been a surge in text message spam, so it’s best to block contacts you don’t recognize. Messages that have a sense of urgency and ask you for personal information are likely to be fraudulent.
Try to remain positive and diligent on your social profiles to avoid any type of social media mishaps or sticky situations that could potentially hurt your online reputation. Remaining professional and uplifting online helps build a more professional online image in the long run.
Following these simple steps can help you maintain control over a professional online image, and protect your privacy for good!