Ensure safety settings are in place
In both the personal and professional world, social media have made a significant impact in the way we communicate and network. And while it’s very easy to set yourself up on sites like Facebook or Twitter, it’s not such fun configuring your account and privacy settings – which is why it’s tempting to simply choose the site’s default options, or decide that you’ll deal with it “later”
However, doing this might mean that your content (information, pictures, videos, and more) becomes public – allowing anyone to view and save it, and maybe even use it for their own purposes.
Take the time to apply the security settings for your accounts so that you know they are secure.
- Don’t regard social media settings as “admin” or a chore. Consider them as essential to maintaining your online and offline safety. In fact, it’s a good idea to refrain from even using a social networking site until after you’ve configured your privacy and security settings.
- Educate yourself on what settings are available and how to change them. Numerous independent websites offer written and video tutorials on how to do this, and the social networks themselves – such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus – also explain their settings in their help pages.
- While running through your settings, remember that restricting your content to friends only doesn’t mean that these restrictions apply to your entire account. Make sure that you also configure other sections too – such as apps – because when you allow apps to access your information, the apps might end up using your data in ways you’re not comfortable with.
- Finally, remember that configuring your settings isn’t a once-off thing. Technology changes fast, and social media sites regularly change their policies – meaning that some of your privacy or security settings may be changed automatically. In such cases, the sites may warn you of the changes – but it’s up to you, as the user, to manually adjust your settings if you want to retain the setup you had before. So check your settings every once in a while and make adjustments where you need to.
10 important facts and tips about social media safety.
- Be cautious of predators: Don’t post revealing photos, updates, or content that would make you a target of sexual predators and other criminals. And never share information that could endanger yourself or your possessions – such as details of your physical locations, your daily schedule, dates when you’ll be going on holiday, and what security precautions you’re taking.
- Know who your friends are – it is unwise to make friends with complete strangers on social media sites like Facebook as you can never be sure what their motives are.
- Always beware of posting your location. Twitter and Facebook have location settings, which can be turned off. These location settings can show your exact location to within a few metres. Especially don’t check in on social media when you’re by yourself and/or in a remote location.
- Beware of what you share. Sharing your mobile number and address online are risky things to do – you can control who sees what on your profile.
- Know how to use the security settings on all the sites you have accounts on. It may seem like a drag, but it could save your life. Make sure strangers can’t harvest your details and use them against you.
- Assume the world is watching you. If you don’t want something widely broadcast, don’t post it. Regardless of your privacy settings, some people may still be able to access content you’ve restricted.
- Everything that gets on the web, stays on the web. Be it in caches, cookies or saved as a screenshot to someone else’s computer, once you post something, consider it permanently published, even if you delete it.
- Protect personal information. Never reveal sensitive personal information like your bank details. Also, never share the passwords you use, or information that could give clues to your passwords – such as your pet’s name or date of birth. Never betray the confidentiality of others who have shared information with you.
- Assume your mother and your boss are reading what you post: Things you write or show can come back to haunt you, so be careful of what you say. Don’t share photographs of yourself in compromising positions, and never post extreme views related to race, religion, or politics. Also, don’t publicly air complaints or extreme views relating to your academic or professional career – such as your institution, job tasks, employer, employees, colleagues, rivals, or anyone in your professional life.
- Beware of clickjacking on social media: Clickjacking is the practice of sending an enticing email or tweet that contains a hyperlinked URL which when clicked on takes you to a site that either prompts you to log in or dumps a virus as you land on it. Twitter accounts that have often been hijacked (hacked) start sending out the clickjacking messages to their followers. The best thing to do if you fall prey to clickjacking is to change your password and make sure it is a strong one.