Social media can be a fun way to interact with friends and family. However, it can also be a source of identity theft and other problems. Someone could use your social media to ruin your professional reputation. They may also be able to sell your information to other people. A few best practices can help keep you safe on social media.
Limit Your Accounts
There are many social media platforms and you may have numerous accounts. However, you should be careful about how many you keep open. Consider deleting ones you don’t use and only keeping a couple. This will help you to better manage the information you share. Additionally, if you have an old account, someone else may be able to take it over and impersonate you.
Only Accept Friends You Know
Avoid accepting friends that you don’t actually know. It may seem innocent to connect with someone new who reaches out to you online. However, this is a common strategy of identity thieves. They create fake accounts, send out thousands of friend requests and see what information they can scrape from profiles. You may be surprised how much someone can learn about you.
Lock Down Your Security Settings
Most social media networks have security settings that let you manage who can see what information. Avoid public profiles and keep your information locked down so that only your close friends and family members can see your more private information. Even something as simple as your birthday can help identity thieves get access to your bank accounts.
Be Cautious About What You Post
Be mindful of what you post. You likely have less control over your social media posts that you think. If you post an inappropriate picture or controversial opinion, you may find that it comes back to bite you in the future. Managing an online reputation is important for people and businesses. Much of the time it is best to keep your social media activity limited to things you’d be happy for your grandmother to see.
Minimize Your Personal Details
There is no need to build profiles full of personal data. If you are connecting with people who know you, they don’t need to check your profile to see which year you were born. Even explicitly highlighting your mother on your profile could be an issue. How many security questions ask for your mother’s maiden name? These personal details are more dangerous than most people realize.
Don’t Log Into Websites With Your Accounts
When you log into a website with your social media accounts, you may be sharing information with those sites. How these systems work varies but you may be opening yourself up to identity theft. While some websites are likely safe, it is best not to use this unless you need to. Furthermore, if someone got access to your social media account, he or she would then be able to log into other accounts using it.
Skip the Clickbait
If you see a vaguely titled but tantalizing article on social media, be cautious. Many of these articles are specifically designed to make you click on them. Some may be a trick to attack you with viruses such as ransomware. An increasingly common strategy for clickbait is to share articles that make you outraged. Be mindful of the website links you clock on social media.
Have you ever posted a photo on your social media and it included the location where you were? This metadata may seem harmless. However, it can be a powerful tool for an identity thief. It isn’t really adding any benefit for your friends and is sharing information about your whereabouts.
Consider, for example, if you are away from home on vacation. Your social feed would be a great tool for a burglar. Being careful about what you share can help keep you safe. Keep these best practices in mind online.