Managing Your Privacy on Social Media

092414-socialprivacyThere are a lot of things we like about social media: Reconnecting with old friends, staying connected with the new, and being up to date on the lives of friends and family far away. We’re just like you: We use social media in our everyday personal lives, too.

But we all need to step back every so often and take a look at the privacy settings we’re using on our favorite social media platforms. Facebook just released a new tool to help you manage your privacy settings. If you haven’t used it yet, we highly recommend you do so soon; access it by clicking the lock icon at the top right of your screen (desktop only). Then, click “Privacy Checkup” to get started.

Here are some other privacy tips to remember as you share, post, and tweet:

Know your friends

We’ve all “friended” and followed acquaintances and people we’ve just met. If you’re not comfortable connecting with someone through social media, you don’t have to accept their friend or follow request. It’s not rude to wait until you feel like you know someone better – or to never “friend” them at all.

Who are you sharing with?

Did you really mean to share that post with everyone on your friends list? Facebook will allow you to sort your friends into groups and then choose which group you’d like to share an update with. On Twitter, you can lock your profile so that you have to approve every follow request.

Are you easy to find?

Most social media lets you determine how people can find you: Name, email address, location, etc. Reduce the ways people can find you if you want more control over who sees that you have a presence on a certain social media.

Limit the information that’s out there

Facebook and other social media allow you to post as much personal information as you want: Address, telephone number, email address, etc. We recommend you don’t make any of that public, even to the people on your friends list. Remember that you’re not as close to some friends as you are to others, and acquaintances and business connections don’t need your home address. Change your settings so this type of information is visible only to you.

Be careful what you share

Some of this advice is obvious: Don’t share your Social Security number, home address, telephone number, or financial information on social media. Anything that could be used to steal your identity – including birthdate – shouldn’t be shared. Don’t make it easy for someone to steal your identity and create a realistic fake profile.

Be judicious about the news and status updates you share, too. Going on vacation? Don’t share that information publicly – either choose your list of close friends, or don’t share it until you get back. You don’t want thieves to know that your house will be vacant because you’re out of town.

Think and rethink before you post. You can delete something, but it never really goes away. Potential employers and others may search you on social media as part of their hiring process. Do you really want them to see that picture or post?

Be aware of what is in your photos

Your photograph may contain more than the subject. Is your street name or house number showing? Is there other identifying information in the picture? Check the background of your photos before you share them on social media.

Many users are also careful about the pictures of their children that they share, choosing to either share none or limit which friends they share with.

Read your email

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites will notify you when they update or chance their privacy policies, most often through email. Don’t delete those emails – read them and stay on top of the privacy and security changes at the websites you use.

Make changes to your settings

When you first sign up with a new social media service, look at your privacy settings first. The default settings are often more open and public than most users would like. Change your settings before you make your first post and review your settings periodically to make sure they are as tight as you want them to be.

Use common sense

These tips are good for social media security and online security in general:

  • Use strong passwords. And, don’t use the same password for every social media site, and don’t use those same password on your bank and financial accounts.
  • Be a skeptic. Spam exists on social media, so if a link or message seems suspect, it probably is.
  • Be careful on public connections. Consider not using social media when you’re using a public computer or a public wifi connection. It’s easy for someone to watch Internet traffic on an unsecured connection.
  • Educate your kids about online security. Kids use these services, too, and you can help them learn to be responsible Internet and social media users.

Concerned about your online security? Contact PNSolutions today! We can help you make sure your computer and networks are secure.

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