Written by: Elizabeth March
With our increasing adoption of social media, knowing what to do, and what not to do when posting information online is an essential tactic that everyone should deploy in order to stay safe and protected. In this post, we share 7 rules for social media safety that you can adopt immediately to help protect you and your private information.
Whatever social media platform you use, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or another; you need to remain vigilant at all times.
For some people, they like to share happy moments and memories with friends and family. For others, they like to build followers or an audience and broadcast details of their private life, including pictures of the things they do or how they feel.
There is no defined reason that fits all users of social media, but however you look at it, these networks are all used for sharing information, most of which is personal. Social Media is meant to be fun, and for most of us, it is. However, as with many things in life, where there is a good side, there is also a more sinister side.
With the vast amount of data available from these platforms, such as names, locations, partners names, family names, date of birth, employee information, professions, likes, dislikes and so much more; it’s no wonder that there are some people who like to collect this data, and in some cases, to use it for purposes that it was not intended.
How often do you check your social media privacy settings?
For many people, the honest answer is, not recently or frequently enough.
The very first piece of advice you need to take from this article is to check your privacy settings on a regular basis. Take a moment to check your settings now. Make sure you view your profile from a public profile setting, as this will allow you to view your information from the same perspective as anyone else, who is not connected with you.
Ok. So now that you know where you stand in terms of WHO can see your information; make sure you enforce the following tips in order to help keep your information, and your private data as secure as possible.
Do not post anything that you are not happy for the entire world to see. There are very few truly hidden places online, and even if a site claims to be secure, there is always a potential for it to become unsecured.
Do not post information that you do not know to be true.
Avoid using your full name and be careful when choosing a nickname. Do not choose an alias that would potentially raise a question about your character or be considered to be suggestive. Keep it simple and use your first name only. Using a full-name could leave you exposed to identity theft.
Do not divulge your address online, whether it be a partial address or a full address, just don’t do it. Always keep your email address and your postal address separate from one another when online. Although a postal address is technically public information that most people could easily get access to via public records, it is important that your email address and your postal address are not easily connected online.
Another easy way of giving away your home address without writing it down is by posting a picture outside of your home.
This rule relates to photographs. In the first rule, we said that it is important not to post anything you wouldn’t be happy with the wider public being able to see. By wider public, this is potentially anyone, anywhere, in the world. People can take a copy of your picture and use it to form a document that can be used to forge your identity. This can quite literally take a matter of minutes to do so always be vigilant.
Always get permission from others if you intend to post their picture. While it might not be the law, it is common courtesy. The safest way to store and share pictures of your family and friends, (particularly if children are involved), is to post pictures in a private album that is password protected or to simply send to people via email.
This is an interesting point and one which can sometimes occur without you actually being aware of. When you post your phone number to a social media profile, you are potentially giving it out to criminals who might then contact you claiming to be from financial organizations or people whom you do business with. Their Intent? Will almost always be to extra money or information that can help them get money from your accounts.
There are some social media platforms and messaging services that will post your phone number automatically, without you giving them the exclusive permission to do so. In some cases, when you link a phone and authenticate your account using this number, it becomes public information and can be viewed on your profile.
As mentioned in the first point, you need to do a thorough check on your social media information status and profile visibility. If you can see your phone number, go into your settings and delete or hide it.
Do not publicly announce where you will be located at any given point in time. Giving away information about you intended whereabouts is never a good idea. It might well be getting viewed by someone in your area who could have unsavory intentions, such as burglary or identity theft.
While many of these might seem obvious, whenever people read through lists such as this, there is typically one or two points that ring true. It only takes one.
Stay safe, and do everything you can to protect your personal information when posting information into the public realm via social media.