From Facebook and Twitter to Pinterest and LinkedIn – and beyond – we each spend a little time (or a lot of time) on social media every day.
How safe is your social media behavior? Follow these six tips to make social media fun and safe.
Know your social media.
How much do you really know about the social media sites you’re using? How do they use your information? What privacy and security settings are available?
Be familiar with the way each website works, and take the time to customize your security and privacy settings so you control what you’re sharing and with whom you’re sharing it. Not sure where to start? Read our recent articles about security on Facebook and Twitter.
Know your friends.
Who are you sharing with? Are they close friends and family? Acquaintances? Business contacts? All of the above?
Only connect with people that you know – don’t accept invitations from people you don’t know or people with whom you’re not comfortable sharing.
You can also control who you share with; Facebook, for example, lets you sort your friends list into groups so that you can choose which group of people you’d like to share with.
If you find yourself needing to connect with strangers, especially for business purposes, consider setting up a separate account for your professional persona. Facebook will let you create a “page” for your business identity, and you can set up a second account on Twitter or other social media. Limit the personal details you share with friends and fans on these professional accounts.
Avoid sharing too much personal information.
Could a thief mine your accounts for the answers to security questions? Sharing your birthday, hometown, first pet’s name, and other information could give someone the tools needed to steal your identity or hack your account. Avoid sharing information like this or limit it to only your close friends.
Network World also recommends against sharing this sensitive information on your social media profiles:
- Social security number – the complete number as well as the last four digits
- Your home address
- Your home phone number
- Passwords and PINs
- Bank and credit card information
Going out of town? Avoid posting that you’re away from home, or limit your post to only close friends. You don’t want the knowledge that your home is vacant to be spread widely.
Be careful what you share.
The temptation on social media is to share it all – certainly you know at least one person you’d consider an “oversharer.” Make every post assuming that what you share online is permanent, even if you delete your account. How would your post look to a future employer? Your parents? Your grandparents? It’s well known that recruiters will search for you during the hiring process. Do they need to see the pictures from last weekend’s party?
By the same token, a positive online persona can work in your favor with potential employers. Always think before you post.
Follow the Golden Rule.
We consider this to be the Golden Rule of Social Media: “Post about others as you’d like them to post about you.” If you wouldn’t want something posted about you – a photo, complaint etc. – don’t do it to someone else.
We’ve talked about being skeptical when you read your email, and the same wary eye should be applied to social media postings and messages. Spam is as common on social media as it is in your inbox. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Review our posts on email spam and phishing and apply it to your social media use.