Social Media enriches our lives and connects us instantly and inexpensively with the world, but it simultaneously makes it challenging to maintain privacy. Virtues of Social Media include the ability to express ourselves and to share information in interesting and creative ways personally and for business, but on the flip side, mistakes have harmed people of all ages and businesses too. Students have been expelled, employees have been fired, political careers have been ruined and innocent and malicious posts have turned deadly, as in the case of teenage suicides from Cyber Bullying.
After the buzz dies down, it doesn’t disappear as posts remain on the Internet ready to resurface at any time. Some people avoid Social Media to protect their privacy. An ostrich burying its head in the sand comes to mind and I argue that this is the wrong approach since avoiding Social Media will not prevent others from talking about you or your business online. If people are talking about you, you should know about it and that includes positive and negative things that are being said about you or your business. I believe that the benefits of Social Media outweigh the costs and that we have the power to minimize the negative aspects.
I recently provided 6 tips on how to protect your privacy and security on social media. Today I will give you 9 more:
1. Be selective when accepting friends or contacts on Social Media
The motivation behind some friend or connection requests may be unacceptable or sinister so don’t feel obligated to accept each one. (ie Sales or Stalking)
- Identity thieves and trouble makers can create fake profiles to get personal information from you and it is your responsibility to screen who you allow onto platforms where you share personal information.
2. Understand Social Media site privacy policies
- Do you care if posted content is monitored?
- Do you mind if your browsing habits are shared with others for marketing purposes?
- Do you know what type of information is accessed by the sites?
3. To protect the privacy of your friends and contacts, avoid giving social networking services access to your address books
Be aware that you are sharing your contacts when you allow Social Media sites to invite your contacts to join or when you allow that site to identify which of your contacts already use their service.
4. Before authorizing an app, understand what information you are giving it access to
- Third party apps can steal personal information so use the same safety precautions you use with downloads.
- Find the apps settings in your Social Media to determine what information is accessed by the app, what it does with your information and if it is allowed to post on your behalf. Edit your settings accordingly or remove apps completely, if necessary.
5. Avoid personal social networking at work
- Employers should create clear Social Media Policies and educate employees regarding appropriate vs. inappropriate use of Social Media at work and also outside of work hours if it pertains to work.
- Employees should understand and respect employers’ Social Media and Technology policies. At work, software programs may legally monitor each keystroke and this can infringe on privacy and even reveal private passwords.
6. Use strong passwords, change them as often as practical and keep personal information used in security questions away from your Social Media
We inadvertently post answers to our security questions on Social Media and this can easily compromise important accounts. For password do’s and don’ts, read, How to create strong passwords and general password guidelines
7. Use multiple email addresses to keep accounts separate
- If you use an email address in an account that has personal or financial information on-line, avoid sharing that address on Social Media.
- Use different email addresses for personal vs. business social media profiles to enable you to have business accounts that are not linked to your personal profiles.
- Use internal messaging instead of private email on Social Media sites to reduce email breaches and spam.
- Select options to prevent your personal email address from showing when you communicate with strangers via internal messaging within Social Media.
8. Be extremely cautious before meeting someone in person that you’ve first met online
For an extensive list of potential problems and solutions regarding on-line dating, read, Internet Dating – 5 ways to stay safe online and Online dating safety tips for meeting potential partners in person
9. Parents must educate children and reinforce appropriate vs. inappropriate use of Social Media
Open and two-way discussions with children are important and helpful.
- To help protect children from on-line predators, read Guidelines to Protect your Children from On-line Predators
- If parents are unsure of what to talk about, there are sites such as Netsmartz or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that provide valuable information
It is impossible to control what others do or say, but we can control ourselves and protect ourselves with knowledge. Refusing to join Social Media will not prevent others from intentionally or accidentally exposing personal or private business information or photos. If you use Social Media, you can monitor what others are saying on your behalf and this gives you options to deal with the situation. It can be as simple as removing a tag or politely asking a friend to remove a photo. It can be as challenging as the need for a business to respond to an inappropriate post in an appropriate manner or it can be as important and as simple as signing up for an online reputation management service to reduce negative impact from posted information that you’d rather not have people see.
For more important tips, please review, 6 Social Media and Privacy Tips
Until next time… Stay Cyber Safe.