6 Ways To Help Keep Your Social Self Safe

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Billions of people post to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat every day, but “most aren’t aware of just how much they’re really sharing online,” says Marc Saltzman, a Toronto-based technology expert. People should be aware, though, as much of the information they share on social media — even simple status updates — can make them vulnerable to hackers and others.


Fortunately, there are some easy ways to control what you share, so you can continue posting, without giving too much away.

1) PRIVACY: CHECK YOUR SETTINGS

Before you do anything, look at your privacy settings, says Saltzman. If you don’t want everyone seeing what you post, change your account settings from Public to Private. That way, only people you accept as friends will be able to view your photos and posts. Most social networks allow you to do this, including Instagram and Twitter. Facebook also lets you to control the privacy of each post, so make sure to limit your personal posts to an audience you trust.

2) NEW FRIENDS: KNOW WHO YOU'RE ADDING

If someone wants to be your social media “friend” or “follower,” make sure that user is a real person before accepting their request. “See if they’re connected to other friends, if their posts are legitimate and if you can recognize the photo,” says Bedrossian, director of social strategy for New York-based communications agency, Peppercomm1. If something seems off, use your best judgment. You can also reach out to them separately — by phone or text — to confirm the request came from them.

3) POSTS: ENJOY NOW, SHARE LATER

Resist sharing every step of your day in real time, and turn off location data, so that people can’t find out where you are when you’re posting.


When it comes to posting travel photos and updates, Saltzman recommends waiting until after you’ve arrived home. While you’ll sacrifice the gratification of having your followers react to your trip as you go, it’s a small price to pay to prevent cyber predators from realizing nobody is home.

4) PHOTOS: DETAILS MATTER

Pictures share more personal information than most regular posts. It’s common to see license plates, street names and private documents in images. You could be inadvertently sharing information on where you are or what you do without even realizing it.


“If you want to post a photo, pay careful attention to what’s in the shot,” says Laura Bedrossian. “Look at the background and consider the potential ramifications of posting it.”

5) MESSAGES: NOTHING IS TRULY PRIVATE

We all share private messages with friends through social, but you should still be cautious. “Assume that what you are putting in writing will last forever,” says Saltzman. If for any reason your account, or the account of the friend you’re messaging is compromised, your information could fall into the wrong hands.

6) MARKETPLACE: BUYER (AND SELLER) BEWARE

While online classified ads aren’t new, social applications, such as Facebook, are getting into the buying and selling game. Unfortunately, they do not offer the same level of anonymity as other sites, like Craigslist.


Be sure to take safety precautions when meeting a potential buyer or seller in person. For instance, before engaging in a transaction, look carefully at the profile of the person who you’ll be doing business with, and then meet at a public location to complete the deal, says Saltzman.


No matter how you use social media, it’s always a good idea to pause before you post and think about how much information you may be giving away. Follow these tips to help keep yourself, your financials and other personal information safe.

SOURCES:


  1. PepperComm

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