Online Privacy and Social Media

Sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram are great for connecting with others online, but maintaining online privacy and social media can be a challenge. These are a few simple actions that can go a long way in keeping yourself and your information private online.

Check Your Online Privacy Settings

Different social media sites have different privacy settings. Facebook allows you to change your privacy settings for individual aspects of your profile—for example, you can set your birthday as Public but your hometown only viewable to Friends. Instagram, on the other hand, makes your biography and profile picture public to everyone but gives a user control over the privacy of posts.  Make sure that all social media settings are set to your preferred privacy settings and that you are not unknowingly sharing information with anyone.

Online Privacy and Social MediaSome social media sites are making changes to help users keep their preferred level of online privacy. Facebook recently added a Privacy Checkup option to the Settings menu, which guides the user through things like keeping your account secure and allowing others to find you on Facebook. These guides are an easy way to check in with your privacy settings, whether you’ve had Facebook for a day or a year.

Log Out of Accounts

Logging out may seem simple, but it’s an easily forgotten step! After using social media on any computer or device, make sure to log out. This ensures that nobody using the device after you will have access to your accounts. It also helps to protect your data from online hackers. The same principle also applies to apps like Google Drive or email. It’s tempting to stay logged in or allow Google to “remember” your account passwords, but it’s far more secure to just log out of your account when you’re finished online.

Change Your passwords at Least Once a Year

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends that passwords changed annually or if you receive any notices of suspicious account activity, server intrusion, or malware. This helps keep you in control of your social media accounts. An updated password should be completely new and unrelated to the old password for maximum security. For tips on coming up with a safe password, check out this article on how to create strong passwords.

Online Privacy in Everything You Post

Following these steps will help you keep your social media accounts private, but it’s equally important to know what you should and should not post to social media. Remember that ultimately, once something posted online, you lose control over where it ends up. A good rule of thumb when posting online is to ask yourself if you would be okay with that post seen by everyone. If the answer is no, it’s better not to share it; although it’s not likely that everyone will see your post, it’s always a possibility when dealing with the Internet. Asking yourself this question before posting will ensure that even if  violation of your online privacy.  There is no sensitive or potentially damaging material made public. As a rule, never share the following information on social media:

  • Home address
  • Your current location
  • Telephone number(s)
  • Social security number
  • Bank account information
  • Passwords
  • Confidential information about yourself or others

Check In With Others

Remember to also do your best to respect others and their privacy online. Before posting a picture with others in it.  Make sure to check in with them and are okay with the picture or information made public. Everyone has different boundaries with what they share on social media, and what you deem acceptable to share might not be okay to your friends.

Social media is a great way to connect with people digitally, and more importantly, it’s fun! There’s no harm in joining social media; just make sure that you remember these tips to keep your social media accounts private and secure.