Social media is here to stay, and whether you’re on one platform or all of them, here are our best practices to keep you – and your information – safe:
Lock it down. Nearly all social media platforms allow users to control their privacy and visibility, providing the opportunity to keep social media content private to only friends and accepted connections. Social media contains a plethora of personal information that can be used by hackers or scammers to build a profile on someone, which can later be used for malicious purposes. Think about common security questions with banks, social media, shopping sites — your mother’s maiden name, the street you grew up on, your favorite food, your dog’s name, your child’s name, your anniversary, etc. Depending on your level of activity and engagement on social media, this information that can be easily gleaned from Facebook if you don’t lock down your profile. Lastly, if you have a public persona, or if you are actively in the job market, you could also consider creating a public profile to create your professional brand (which would be carefully curated content, not Personally Identified Information), and keep your personal profile private.
And keep locking it down. New features and general updates mean that privacy settings within social media – Facebook in particular – change regularly. It’s not enough to set your privacy settings and move on, you need to be proactive and check your settings often.
Avoid quizzes & games. Remember FarmVille? Candy Crush? The games and apps that synchronize to Facebook are acquiring your personal data. This amusingly titled article from The Atlantic, My Cow Game Extracted Your Facebook Data, penned by Ian Bogost, tells the story of a developer who created a silly game and gathered Facebook data from all 18,000 users. He writes, “If you played Cow Clicker, even just once, I got enough of your personal data that, for years, I could have assembled a reasonably sophisticated profile of your interests and behavior.” The article is worth the read, and will hopefully further convince you of the risks of allowing apps and games to access your social media data.
Don’t repost. Most people’s social media feeds are full of reposted content. While the requests to copy/paste/repost a paragraph is harmless, and the amusing memes or inspirational quotes are benign, there are greater risks with the more overt modern chain letters. You’ve seen them: claims that Facebook will start charging for their service or steal your content and photos unless you repost, and Bill Gates will give away millions if you simply repost, etc. etc. etc. None of this is true, of course, but it’s remarkable how many people will repost “just in case”. Beyond being annoying, these modern chain letters spread inaccurate information, and can contain malicious links to pages or websites that collect your Personal Identifiable Information (PII).
Don’t log in with social media. Similar to the risks above, logging into websites with your Facebook or Twitter account is providing more of your data than necessary. Instead, use your email address to create accounts, or better yet, create an email address used for online memberships / login credentials.
Practice safe passwords. We will never stop talking about the need for secure passwords! Visit our dedicated post on the subject!
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