Social media has become one of the most influential and popular results of the rise of the digital age. Over one third of the world’s population uses social media, and this number is only expected to rise as the years march by. This proliferation makes it crucial to understand and implement safety precautions for personal information and data. With the ever-present fear of hackers using your personal information to break into financial accounts, or even steal your entire identity, this need has never been greater.
There are a few ways you can use to avoid having what you put on your social media accounts used against you. These are extremely easy to use, and take little time to implement, so incorporating them all into your social media activities is a wise choice.
Know Your Privacy and Security Settings
Virtually every social media platform out there offers some form of restrictions you can place on who is allowed to see your content. Get to know these privacy settings intimately, and institute the ones that you feel will be best for the amount of information you usually share.
It is also important to understand the available security settings for each social media platform. A higher level of needed authentication and access will help cut the chance of nefarious characters gaining control of your account tremendously. A good example is turning on two-step authentication if the account is accessed from an unknown device.
Use Strong Passwords
While using strong passwords is advisable for any type of account you create, this holds especially true for a social media account. The personal or business nature of much of the available information makes it especially attractive to hackers and thieves. Avoid common elements like birthdays or names of kids and pets. Always use upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and even some special characters thrown in for good measure.
Know Who You Friend
Back in the early days of social media, a high number of friends and connections was considered a badge of honor, making the acceptance of all contact requests a common practice. As threats have become more frequent and sophisticated, it is now advisable to be much more selective. Try to either know anyone you accept personally, or check them out with a mutual friend.
Limit What You Post
The simplest way to avoid misuse of your data is to limit what you actually post. The tendency today seems to be posting more and more of personal situations and information, which can be stolen or used against you at a later date. If the situation or information is more personal, send it in a private message rather than posting it on your timeline. Even this should be used carefully, since your private message can be posted publicly by a hacker or the recipient.
It may also be tempting to always post where you are at the present moment, such as check-ins at restaurants or business activities. Take into consideration that everyone will then see that you are no longer at home, which may give an opportunistic thief the perfect time to strike.
Be Careful In Public
Using a public computer, such as those found at a library or internet cafe, brings with it more responsibility than a personal device in order to stay safe. Always remember to log out of your account when you are finished using it, and delete your browsing history. If the WiFi connection you are using is public, consider getting a VPN (virtual private network) to mask your credentials and transferred data.
Using social media can be an extremely enjoyable activity, and taking the necessary steps to avoid calamity can ensure it stays a positive experience. Never assume the worst cannot happen to you, as doing so will leave you unprotected and vulnerable to exploitation.