Social media has transformed how people stay connected in both their personal and professional lives. It helps us remain informed and opinionated about the world. However, with all this information at our fingertips, it's important to be aware of the many risks. These vary from privacy and security concerns, such as phishing and identity theft, right up to child safety issues.
Protect Your Sensitive Information
It's important to understand that putting your personal information online makes you vulnerable but there are many ways to control who sees your posts and personal details. Making your accounts private is only the first step in protecting yourself.
Facebook Privacy Settings
Click on Profile > Settings & Privacy > Settings > Privacy – this is where you can select who sees your posts and any personal details that could be used in identity theft, such as your birth date.
Twitter Privacy Settings
- For most privacy settings go to More > Settings and Support > Settings and Privacy > Privacy and Safety:
- Discoverability and Contacts – Here, you'll be able to choose to let people who have your email address or phone number find you.
- Audience and Tagging > Protect your Tweets – This makes your tweets only visible to your followers.
- To remove your birth date: Profile > Edit Profile > scroll down to edit your Birth Date. Ensure you select the default values for all three fields.
Instagram Privacy Settings
Select your profile > hamburger icon > Settings > Privacy:
- Private Account – To keep your account for you and your followers' eyes only.
- Comments – Here, you can block comments or set it up so that they have to be audited by you first. When posting it’s also possible to turn off comments by first selecting the three dots on the top right of your individual post.
- Messages – Here you can make it so that non-followers send you a message request before contacting you.
- Mentions – It’s also possible to control mentions of you (tags) so that they’re accepted in posts by: anyone, people you follow, or no one.
- Hidden Words – This can filter offensive custom words and phrases in messages and comments.
TikTok Privacy Settings
- Select Profile > hamburger icon > Settings and Privacy > Privacy:
- Turn Private Account on or off.
- Comments > Comment Filters – here you can filter who comments on your videos.
- It’s also possible to filter and block messages in Inbox > Message Request > Settings.
- Choose Who Sees Your Videos:
- If it’s an old post: Profile > the relevant video > More > Privacy > Who can watch this video > Private
- If it’s a new post: When writing out the post description, there’s the option to choose > Who can watch this video > Private
Limit What You Share
There are many dangers when oversharing your personal life on social media. For example, did you know that you’re still traceable if your location is kept on even when apps are not in use? One of your followers could see you post a picture at the airport, find out where you live, and then rob you while you're on holiday.
Along with controlling who sees your posts, there are numerous ways to cover your tracks, such as waiting until you’ve returned to post anything about your trip. But if you really want to, make sure to not add or mention your location, and be mindful of the pictures you share as obvious landmarks will give it away. Plus, don’t post anything you wouldn't want the whole world to know.
Don’t Get Phished
Phishing scams can come in several forms; the most common are emails sent from nearly identical services to those you might use. For instance, you could receive an email from what you think is Instagram saying your account was logged into from another device. Hackers want you to click on the link to log in, where they will either obtain your password or spread malicious malware on your device.
To avoid this, never open these links and compare Instagram’s real emails against the new one. If it appears to be malicious, flag it as spam to prevent further messages. You can also install internet security services like AVG Ultimate that protect you from phishing, spyware, viruses, and more.
Identity Theft Protection
The best way to avoid identity theft on social media is to use a specialized service. Identity theft protection services usually contain monitoring features for social media, banking, and other high-risk transactions. Identity Guard can even offer a ‘social insight report’ based on the monitoring of your social media behavior and interactions, to help you understand if you need to be more careful.
Encrypt Your Connection
Where possible, it’s best to avoid using free or public Wi-Fi when using social media apps. Still, if you do have to use one, then a VPN can help you do it securely. VPNs provide the necessary additional security by encrypting the data before its transmitted so hackers can’t eavesdrop. This is particularly necessary when using ‘Live’ functions on social media.
These services keep your information private by changing your virtual location, plus they don't track activity. A great option is Surfshark, which provides handy iOS and Android apps, and speedy server connections, plus it safeguards your personal information online.
Ensure Your Child's Safety
But all hope is not lost, as there are useful tools that can help parents put child safety measures in place. App restrictions let parents limit what is downloaded from Google Play or the App Store. Along with built-in parental control features on Windows and Mac, parents can also opt for apps like Qustodio, which monitors social media, search history, and helps define usage time. The parental control app blocks any inappropriate websites and content.
Additionally, TikTok provides its own restrictions for its teen accounts and lets parents set time limitations. YouTube even offers an app for kids that allows parents to both set time limits and filter videos.
It’s Time To Protect Your Privacy
As the saying goes, too much of a good thing can be bad, and this is especially true regarding our daily habits with social media. But this doesn't mean you need to jump ship completely. Remember, caution and prevention are vital to ensuring your personal information stays safe and protected while using these platforms.
One obvious tip is to avoid sending any personal information through direct messages while using these apps. But it’s also easy to decrease the risk of phishing and identity theft, while also protecting your child by taking simple proactive and preventative measures.
Making the most out of what is offered by these social media platforms is also a handy way to protect yourself, so think about staying up to date on their latest privacy and security features.
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