Social media is a great way to connect and interact with friends, family, and coworkers online. The media aspect provides news, entertainment, and information about loved ones. The social aspect is where it can get a bit dangerous. It’s one thing to be social online; make friends, plan events, and these days, send money to each other. It’s another thing to be so open on social media that you accidentally give away a bit too much information on the website, leading to potential hacks. There are all kinds of methods devised to trick you into giving up your personal information in seemingly harmless ways.
So how can you protect your social media account? A strong password is a good start, and having different passwords for different accounts can be very beneficial (if you can keep track of all of them). But a strong password in the social media world is not always enough. So here are a few tips and tricks on what and how to share information on three of the main social mediums today: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Feel free to do your own research on other platforms as well (i.e LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc.).
On the top right hand of the Facebook screen (on a desktop or laptop) there is a lock symbol with three lines behind it. Clicking on it reveals your privacy settings. In your privacy settings, you can control who sees your posts and apps. You can choose whether information such as your phone number, email, birthday, and hometown are visible to the public, your friends, a custom list, or just you. In particular, your email address is one you’ll want to keep from the general public to prevent spammers from getting a hold of it.
There are many different privacy settings that will let you control who sees your posts, posts you’re “tagged” in, and who can look you up through email and phone number. You can also turn on a setting that will notify you if someone logs into your account from an unknown computer.
Twitter has many similar privacy features to Facebook. You can access them by visiting twitter.com/settings while logged in, and then select “Security and privacy” from the left side menu. You can check a box to always verify login requests with an access code sent to your phone, or require both the access code and password at login rather than just requesting an access code. This adds an extra layer of protection if by some chance your phone was stolen and someone was trying to get into your account.
Instagram’s privacy settings are fairly basic, although they do allow you to set your profile to private. Setting your profile to private will require users to request permission to follow you. Other than that, it’s mainly up to you to choose what information displays on your profile–so things like your phone number, email, or website won’t show unless you specifically add them to your displayed profile.
No matter which social media platform you participate in, the idea is the same–keeping your private information safe and out of the hands of those who would abuse it. Familiarize yourself with the settings of each of your accounts, and stay informed with any changes these sites make to their privacy policies. It will go a long way toward protecting you from any would-be hackers and spammers.