Five Tips to Protect Yourself on Social Media

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Social media is a big part of our everyday lives. These sites are a great way to connect with family and friends and keep up on celebrities you admire. But whether you’re a social media novice or an active user, it’s important to think about your privacy and security on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Here are five tips to help you stay secure:

Make all your online passwords strong and unique.

Create different passwords for every service you use. Using the same password for everything may seem convenient, but you’re making it easier for hackers to log in to all of your accounts.

Make sure to use symbols, numbers and capital letters; these make your passwords harder to guess. Avoid words that are easy to guess like “password”, your child’s name, or your birthday. 

Adjust your privacy settings. 

Most social media platforms have privacy setting to help protect your account, but these features are not automatic. You’ll have to go into your settings to set restrictions based on the level of privacy you want. 

If you want, your entire account can be private, so your content is only visible to friends and followers. Some platforms even allow you to adjust the visibility of each post separately. This allows you to decide what posts you want visible to everyone and what you’d like to be viewed by only a select group. Remember adding people you don’t know to your network can put your privacy at risk, even if you have these settings turned on. 

Secure your computer and phone.

Some links on social media are actually scams that contain malware and viruses. So it’s important to make sure your computer is protected with some form of anti-virus software. Also, keeping your applications and operating system up to date can help protect you from potential attacks. 

Avoid using public devices.

If you use your personal device to check social media, you might have the habit of never logging out. But when you need to log in on a public computer or a friend’s device, make sure you log out completely when you’re done. Just closing the application or browser isn’t enough. The next person who uses the device could still be logged into your account.  

Be mindful of what you post. 

Even with the most advanced security settings, you can protect yourself even more by taking a moment to think before you post.  Consider these questions:  

What information do I feel comfortable with strangers potentially seeing? 

Is this sensitive information that puts the security of myself or others at risk?  

Hackers, stalkers and identity thieves are always looking to access your personal information. So avoid posting things like your child’s name, your address or phone number. Even something as simple as posting your vacation photos while you’re away, can make your empty home a target for burglars. Keep in mind even posts on a private account, can still be shared without your permission if someone were to screenshot or take photos of content. 

It is best to keep sensitive and personal information off your online profile even if you have privacy settings enabled. 

With the right tools, we hope you can continue to enjoy social media as a fun way to connect with people while you protect your information and privacy.