If you’re like millions of other people, you’re checking into at least one social network multiple times a day. The most frequently used networks are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google + but there are many more out there that are used on a frequent basis. Although social networks provide a great way for us to keep up with friends and family, sharing information also makes us vulnerable for those out there looking for ways to prey on others. Hours are spent online by identity thieves, stalkers, and other unscrupulous people searching for their next victim. All it takes is a little oversharing and you become their next target. Although passwords and changing your passwords regularly provide safety, you should always strike a balance between sharing just enough without sharing everything.
Here are some Tips for Staying Safe on Social Media Networks:
- Connect only with people you trust. While networks like Twitter and Pinterest are typically safe for connecting with strangers because of the limited amount of personal information shared through them, sites like Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn typically share a bit more information about you. On those networks, keep your connections to people you can trust.
- Change your privacy settings. Most networks offer very little protection when using the default privacy settings. The moment you sign up, go through the account settings and set everything so that only specific people can access your information.
- Keep certain things private from everyone. Certain information should be kept completely off of your social networks to begin with, even from those on your friend lists. While it’s fun to have everyone wish you a happy birthday, and you do want your high school friends to find you, listing your exact date of birth with your full name (including maiden name) and address gives potential identity thieves an awfully large advantage over you.
- Don’t broadcast your location. Social networks like 4-Square and the locator service on Facebook are all the rage now, but they’re not exactly the safest feature to activate. Think about it: you’re either telling a stalker exactly where to find you, or telling a thief that you’re not home right now.
- Remember, there is no delete button on the internet. Think before you post, because even if you manage to delete a tweet or status update from your profile within seconds after posting it, chances are someone still saw it. What happens on the internet stays on the internet…and not in a good way like Vegas.
- Don’t click on links unless you know where they lead. Social media is a huge link sharing platform, and it may be tempting to click on every potential great deal or humorous cat video. While the majority of the links are actually pretty safe, many can lead to viruses of phishing schemes. Avoid haphazard clicking and only visit trusted sites.