How Can You Protect Your Privacy on Social Media?

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Protecting your personal information online is always important, but 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.

How Can You Protect Your Privacy on Social Media

Why is privacy important on social media?

Privacy is important in social media to help keep you 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, and that depends on what type of content you share online.

How to protect your privacy on social media 

Protecting your privacy on social media is quite easier than you’d think with the help of a few simple steps! 

1 – Turn Your Account Settings to Private 

Anyone with access to Google or other search engines has the ability to find your social media profiles with a quick search of your name. 

Review your privacy settings and profiles occasionally, especially after learning about any updates or changes to the platform.

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

Be careful about allowing others to post on your behalf. My privacy settings prevent friends from “Checking me into Places.” I also do not allow apps to make posts on my behalf at the expense of missing out on some nifty opportunities such as allowing the app to post birthday greetings to friends on my behalf.  But I’m okay with that.

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 turned viral very easily if your account settings are not set 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. 

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.

To review your Twitter Privacy settings, read Security and Privacy Tips for Twitter Users

Twitter Privacy Settings

2 – Be mindful of who you follow, and who follows you

Keeping your friend list to only family and friends you know personally allows you to have more confidence knowing just what type of audience you are posting to.

Only allowing followers who know you personally gives the account holder peace of mind knowing the information they share is only going towards those who have their best interests in mind. 

When following other accounts, you should also be mindful of who you are following, and what type of profile and content you are subscribing to. If you are trying to maintain a professional image online, following other accounts that are in line with your beliefs is a good idea. Oftentimes followers can view who and what type of accounts you follow if they are friends with you online. 

Friends and complete strangers can track your whereabouts with Twitter. For businesses, this can be lucrative. On a personal level, this can be dangerous when it involves stalkers or thieves who know where you live and who want to know when you’re not home. There have been recent news stories about schemes to alert the public when homes are vulnerable.

3 – 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 information you share can be distributed to the masses with the quick click of a button. 

Social Media use has increased dramatically and it’s hard not to be aware of the decrease in general privacy or the challenge of keeping our privacy intact. Intentional or accidental sharing of personal information and photos can be frustrating or devastating and I have a growing list of stories to prove it.

It’s challenging, however, it is possible to maintain a decent level of privacy by using common sense and by following some simple guidelines.

Posts, photos and videos can be saved, printed, copied and pasted or captured with screenshots. Prior to posting, carefully review comments, photos and videos to minimize negative consequences, thinking ahead about what the consequence will be if a post gets to unintended recipients.

Electronic sharing is quick and easy so assume Social Media posts can go viral, regardless of intentions or privacy settings. We may ask others to keep information private but the reality is we lose control once we share or post.

4 – 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, contact the named sender by an alternate method to verify its legitimacy

Messages that have a sense of urgency and ask you for personal information are likely to be fraudulent. Think before acting if your Social Media site administrator notifies you of a problem with your account and requires you to click on a link to resolve the issue.

Remember, you can verify the information by contacting your provider directly by telephone, by typing in the web address (URL) yourself instead of clicking on a link or by accessing the site via your own bookmarks. Be cautious of links in messages and status updates before clicking on them.

For tips to avoid being hacked or having your personal information compromised, read How to Avoid Phishing Scams

Social Media is helpful and fun but it’s frighteningly clear that we must think carefully about consequences before posting or sharing. It’s dangerously easy for information to travel far and wide in the blink of an eye therefore we need to avoid making detrimental mistakes. Our best defense is knowledge. We need to get our heads out of the sand so we can face the challenges and do what it takes to keep ourselves cyber safe!

Try to remain positive and helpful 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 long term.

Following these simple steps can help you maintain control over a professional online image, and protect your privacy for good!

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