Most of us use multiple social media platforms every day to connect with our friends, family and coworkers. While these platforms allow us to feel closer to our followers near and far, it is not without risk. Malicious online criminals may target social media profiles to make use of our life’s most private details.
Check-ins at our favorite restaurants, vacation flight details and even selfies can reveal more than we originally intend. The same information we share on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be manipulated to access private accounts, create fraudulent identities, threaten our reputations offline and more.
Before you click, tweet or type your next update, make sure you are protecting your information:
DO: Create a long, strong and unique password for your social media accounts. Strong passwords should be a cryptic combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Do not use the same password and login combination across multiple accounts.
DO: Use two-factor authentication on social accounts. Many sites, including Facebook, allow users to enable this second layer of protection on accounts. For Facebook, when logging in to a new device, you’ll need to use your password and enter a timed PIN that is sent to your phone. Other accounts may require biometric information, like a fingerprint. This helps further safeguard your information and accounts.
DON’T: Don’t share location details. Sharing information like your home address in your social networking profile or checking-in at a restaurant can put you at risk for identity theft, or worse, alert criminals to your whereabouts. The same goes for sharing details of when you are not at home, like posting photos while on vacation.
DO: Keep your social apps updated. The latest versions may fix bugs and help keep your identity secure. For extra ease, consider turning on automatic updates.
DO: Re-examine your privacy settings on all social accounts. Social platforms are constantly tweaking their privacy options and policies. What you think is being shared with just your friends may be reaching a much larger audience, including strangers. Check your settings every few months to make sure your information is as private as possible.
DON’T: Don’t post harmful comments online. Think about the impact of your words. Post about others as you want them to post about you. Remember, your comments and posts live long after you’ve deleted them.
DO: Delete old apps and profiles on social media sites you no longer use. This often goes beyond deleting an app from your home screen. Follow their instructions online to make sure all your information is removed.
DO: Read the news and stay up to date on social media platforms, privacy policies and news. Check trusted websites for the latest information.
DON’T: Don’t take cyberbullying or cyberstalking lightly. Both of these issues can affect the self-esteem of users of all ages. Parents, create a conversation with your children and teenagers about the dangers of online harassment. If a situation arises, talk to your children, their school and even law enforcement if necessary.