Everyone is on social media sharing information about what they are doing, who they are with, where they are, and even what they’re eating. And why not?! It’s a fun, easy way to connect with friends, family, and even potential business partners. However, it can unfortunately sometimes be a place for criminals of all kinds to find and acquire information. So, how do you stay safe on social media? Here are a few tips to make sure you have a good, safe experience while sharing on social media.
Only share your location after you’ve left
It can be tempting to check-in from a tropical vacation spot or a trendy restaurant, but this immediately lets folks know where they can find you and that you are not home. This can be dangerous because you don’t want people to know your exact whereabouts or alert potential burglars that no one is home. Keep in mind that you may be sharing this information unintentionally if you allow your posts be tagged with your location. To prevent this, be sure to disable location tagging. A better way to share that cool location that you want to promote is to check-in as you are leaving.
Avoid games and quizzes that require profile information
Maybe you’ve heard about how a particular company was using quizzes to get access to your data on social media. We know it’s tempting – who doesn’t want to know what flavor cupcake best represents their personality or if they’ll get married next year, but try to resist the urge to indulge in these quizzes and games. Often, by agreeing to play, you are allowing them to access your profile and all of your follower’s profiles. If games and personality quizzes are your thing, Buzzfeed often posts them on their website and you don’t have to sell out your follower list to participate.
Watch out for strangers
If you receive a friend request from someone that you don’t know, don’t accept it. It’s very easy for potential scammers to create fake accounts and identities on social media. Limiting your friend list to people that you already know and have interacted with is the safest bet, but if you do choose to interact with strangers do not give out your personal information and consider limiting the posts they can see. Also, look out for a request from duplicate accounts. Some scammers create accounts with the name and photos of your existing friends, assuming that you won’t remember adding them. If this happens, report the account immediately, or better yet call Nev and Max.
Keep your passwords private
Remembering the passwords to all of your social media accounts can be challenging. This may seem like a given, but do not keep a log of them in a notebook, on sticky notes, index cards, or on your phone. Invest in a good password management system that will help you store and even create stronger passwords for all of your accounts.
While we are on the subject of passwords, always say “no” when you’re prompted to store them in your web browser. If any of your devices go missing or are stolen, whoever has them will have access to your social media accounts. If you think you’ve been the victim any sort of identity theft or data breach, change all of your passwords immediately.
Do not use your social media credentials to sign into to other websites
Many third-party websites will allow you to sign in with your social media accounts. While it does seem like it can save you time and the hassle of creating another username and password, it’s best to skip this one. The website will have access to some of your profile information ranging anywhere from your friends’ list to your location. Also, if someone hacks your social media accounts, they will have access to every website that you used it to log into. If you do decide to take this step, be sure to read the user agreement.
Pay close attention to where your kids are hanging out online
Before your kids start using social media, educate them and yourself on some of the dangers of what happens online. People with bad intentions prey on children of all ages online because they are easy targets. Most social media sites have age restrictions that are important to follow, as they’ve created these rules to keep children safe. Make sure your kid’s privacy settings are airtight and consider monitoring their social media accounts. There are tons of helpful resources online for parents, but this Parents Guide to Instagram is especially good.
To read more tips about staying safe online, visit staysafeonline.org. Got any tips? We’d love to hear them!